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Nexus Between Psychiatrists and Drug Firms Dangerous, Say Critics

Some might squirm at the thought that doctors could be on the payrolls of drug manufacturers.

Such stories are rampant in many developing countries. But things are no difference in the West too.

Recently a study showed repeated visits by representatives of pharmaceutical firms resulted in prescription of untested medicines to patients.

Last month the venerable New York Times wrote, doctors who have close relationships with drug makers tend to prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs whether or not they are in the best interests of patients.

It wrote about a pharmaceutical company Amgen, which makes the most expensive drugs used in the treatment of kidney disease and which underwrote more than $1.9 million worth of research and education programs led by a Dr. Allan Collins.

He is a most influential kidney specialist and president of the National Kidney Foundation and director of a government-financed research center on kidney disease.

In 2005, Amgen paid Dr. Collins at least $25,800, mostly in consulting and speaking fees, the records show.

Doctors receive money typically in return for delivering lectures about drugs to other doctors. Some of the doctors receiving the most money sit on committees that prepare guidelines instructing doctors nationwide about when to use medicines.

In dozens of interviews, most doctors said that these payments had no effect on their care of patients.

Dr. Collins said his sole focus was the health and well-being of patients. Just because I might do consulting work doesnt mean I dont press the agenda of the public health, he said.

And now the same newspaper has come out with yet another devastating expose.

Drug maker payments to Minnesota psychiatrists rose more than sixfold, to $1.6 million. During those same years, prescriptions of antipsychotics for children in Minnesota's Medicaid program rose more than ninefold.
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