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Drug Firm Payments To Iowans Publicized

Drug Firm Payments To Iowans Publicized [The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa]

From Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) (October 20, 2010)

Oct. 20--More than 150 Iowa health care workers received payments totaling more than $1.6 million from drug companies since 2009, a new national database from the national independent journalism non-profit ProPublica shows.

According to the database, seven drug companies made 241 payments to Iowa health care workers, many physicians, for services including participation in professional education programs, public speaking and consulting.

Single payments to Iowans range from $38 Eli Lilly paid to Monica Keleher, a Mount Vernon nurse, for patient education programs to $74,400 Eli Lilly paid to Fairfield physician Donal Hill for professional education programs, ProPublica reported.

Hill received the most money from drug companies with nearly $97,600 total in two payments from Eli Lilly. A payment of about $23,000 was for health care education and consulting.

Payments made to Iowans are less than 1 percent of the total made to health care workers nationwide, ProPublica reports.

‘I think it’s great that it’s out there,’ Dr. Christopher Okiishi, a children’s psychiatrist with nine Eastern Iowa locations, said about the database. ‘It’s not something that should be hidden.’ Okiishi, of North Liberty, received three payments totaling nearly $50,000 from three drug companies for speaking engagements and travel expenses, according to the database. He speaks about attention deficit disorder and children’s mental health in Iowa and other states, Okiishi said.

‘I only speak for companies who have products I already believe in,’ Okiishi said. He also gives proceeds from drug companies to charity, he said.

At least seven of the Iowa health care workers listed in the ProPublica database are employed by the University of Iowa. Of these, Dr. Mark Karwal, a hematology and oncology faculty member, received the most with $12,500 in two payments from GlaxoSmithKline for speaking engagements.

The UI implemented a conflict-of-interest policy in 2009 that required doctors who consult with private companies to provide details about specific tasks and payments. The policy also forbids health care employees from giving free drug samples to patients and taking gifts.

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Posted: October 2010