By Jessica Huseman, ProPublica
Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are continuing to pay doctors as promotional speakers and expert advisers even after they’ve been disciplined for serious misconduct, according to an analysis by ProPublica.
One such company is medical device maker Stryker Corp.
In June 2015, New York’s Board for Professional Medical Conduct accused orthopedic surgeon Alexios Apazidis of improperly prescribing pain medications to 28 of his patients. The board fined him $50,000 and placed him on three years’ probation, requiring that a monitor keep an eye on his practice.
Despite this, Stryker paid Apazidis more than $14,000 in consulting fees, plus travel expenses, in the last half of 2015.
Stryker also paid another orthopedic surgeon, Mohammad Diab of San Francisco, more than $16,000 for consulting and travel, even though California’s medical board had disciplined him for having a two-year-long inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient, whose two children he also treated. He was suspended from practice for 60 days, required to seek psychological treatment and given seven years’ probation. He is still required to have a third party present while seeing female patients.
Neither Apazidis or Diab returned emails or calls seeking comment.
Stryker officials also would not answer questions. The company is one of more than at least 400 pharmaceutical and medical device makers that have made payments to doctors after they were disciplined by their state medical boards.
ProPublica reviewed disciplinary records for doctors in five states, California, Texas, New York, Florida and New Jersey, and checked them against data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on company payments to doctors. That included payments for things like speaking, consulting, education, travel and gifts, but not for meals, as these often don’t …