(NaturalNews) Being found guilty of criminal activity or professional misconduct might ordinarily result in curtailed opportunities and income, but such has not been the case with hundreds of disciplined doctors on the payrolls of Big Pharma. Doctors who've been sanctioned, fined, suspended and even convicted of crimes have found their misdeeds to be no obstacle when it comes to raking in big money as drug company speakers, consultants, educators and drug trial overseers.
An examination by the ProPublica news agency of seven pharmaceutical companies' payment records in 30 states found 292 disciplined doctors who earned a collective $7.1 million in 2009-2010 alone. Accusations against the doctors included serious medical mistakes, sexual misconduct, and excessive use of addictive drugs. Seventy of the doctors had been sanctioned multiple times or by more than one state. Twenty-one of them had three or more strikes against their records.
Since the investigation excluded over 60 pharmaceutical companies and 20 states, the total number of disciplined doctors on Big Pharma's payroll is sure to be much higher. In addition, not all doctors properly report their drug company incomes - as Colorado Public Radio found when it reviewed the ProPublica data and discovered that at least 84 Colorado physicians did not disclose their drug company contracts.
Among the disciplined doctors were:
*a Long Island psychiatrist who spoke on behalf of a Pfizer's antipsychotic drug even though his New York medical license was suspended in 2001 and he was placed on probation for five years for helping supply the narcotic drug Vicodin to six patients who were drug addicts.
*a Texas psychiatrist disciplined in 2000 after being accused of improperly prescribing drugs to several patients, including one who died of an overdose. The doctor's website indicates he has given more than 1,300 presentations on stress disorders.
*two Orlando-area urologists who pled guilty in 2001 to conspiracy to sell the prescription drug Lupron without complying with FDA regulations: they received almost $200,000 from Glaxo between 2009 and 2010.
*a Phoenix family doctor specializing in HIV who was the most highly sanctioned doctor. He was disciplined five times between 1996 and 2009. In the most serious case, numerous male patients accused him of sexually victimizing or violating them.
*a cardiologist whose license was suspended in New York and New Jersey last year after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual contact in 2008.
A previous New York Times investigation in 2007 found that in Minnesota alone at least 103 doctors, who had been disciplined or criticized by the state medical board, received a total of $1.7 million from drug makers between 1997 to 2005. The median payment over that period was $1,250; the largest was $479,000.
One such doctor was a psychiatrist the Minnesota Medical board accused of having a "reckless, if not willful, disregard" for the welfare of 46 patients; 5 of whom died in his care or shortly afterward. Despite his license being suspended and restricted, drug makers paid the psychiatrist thousands for each clinical trial patient he recruited. One patient who refused recruitment was discharged by the psychiatrist despite being diagnosed as suicidal. Two weeks later the patient committed suicide.
Dr. Humayun J. Chaudhry, chief executive of the Federation of State Medical Boards said, "If I'm sitting in an audience listening to a physician tout a certain drug and I was aware of those disciplinary actions, I would have questions about their character and their motivation for talking about that subject."
Dr. Chaudhry also said pharmaceutical companies could easily ask his group to search for discipline in any state against any of their physicians.
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year. He is also a contributing author for the worldwide advocacy group "S.A N.E.Vax. Inc" which endeavors to uncover the truth about HPV vaccine dangers. Mr. Isaacs is currently residing in scenic East Texas and frequently commutes to the even more scenic Texas hill country near Austin and San Antonio to give lectures and health seminars. He also hosts the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs - featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and he serves as a consultant to the "Utopia Silver Supplement Company".