Hired By Drug Companies

Last update: June 02, 2007 – 7:45 PM
Among the other Minnesota doctors who were disciplined or criticized and still paid by pharmaceutical companies:
Dr. Barry Garfinkel, a child psychiatrist from Minneapolis who was convicted in federal court in 1993 of fraud involving a study for Ciba-Geigy. His criminal case made headlines across the state. From 2002 to 2004, Eli Lilly & Co. paid him more than $5,500 in honoraria, according to state records.
Garfinkel said in an interview that he had wondered why drugmakers would hire him as a speaker considering his statewide notoriety. He decided that “they’re hiring me to influence my prescribing habits,” so he quit giving sponsored talks and taking money from drugmakers, he said.
Dr. John Simon, a psychiatrist from Minneapolis, shared an office with Dr. Faruk Abuzzahab for years, was told by the state medical board in 1994 to complete a clinical training program after it concluded that he “frequently makes abrupt and drastic changes in type and dosage of medication which seem erratic, not well considered and poorly integrated with nonmedication strategies.” He prescribed addictive drugs to addicts and failed to stop giving medicines to patients suffering severe side effects, the board said.
Simon earned more than $350,000 from five drugmakers from 1998 to 2005 for consulting and giving drug marketing talks. Of this, Eli Lilly paid more than $314,000. Simon said in an interview that drugmakers continued to hire him to speak because “I am respected by my peers.”
Asked about Garfinkel and Simon, Phil Belt, a spokesman for Eli Lilly, said that both doctors were licensed to practice medicine and that the company relied on doctors to report disciplinary actions or criminal convictions against them.
Dr. Ronald Hardrict, a psychiatrist from Minneapolis who pleaded guilty in 2003 to Medicaid fraud. In 2004 and 2005, he collected more than $63,000 in marketing payments from seven drugmakers. In an interview, Hardrict said it was “insulting” and “ridiculous” to suggest that income from drugmakers might influence doctors’ prescribing habits. “I bought the Mercedes because it has air bags, and I use Risperdal because it works,” Hardrict said, referring to an antipsychotic medicine for schizophrenia. Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Risperdal, paid Hardrict more than $30,000 in 2003 and 2004.
Srikant Ramaswami, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, said the company removed Hardrict as a speaker in 2004 when, as a result of his conviction, his name appeared in a government database.
Asked why other drugmakers continue to hire him despite a fraud conviction, Hardrict responded with an e-mail message stating only, “I will pray for you daily.”

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