SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — It happens across the country including here in the Bay Area, doctors cashing in on checks from pharmaceutical companies.

According to a recent survey by the non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica, more than 17,000 doctors earned more than $100,000 for promoting and consulting pharmaceutical drugs.

San Francisco Neurologist Wayne Anderson is one of them. ProPublica’s database reported Anderson received more than $170,000 from various pharmaceutical companies. But Anderson said this payout does not influence his decision when it comes to suggesting medications.

“The reason why again is because I do tell my patients that I am willing to use another medication the other one is I was using the medications that I speak on before actually they hired me to speak on their behalf,” he said.

Some of the companies making these big payouts include Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfzier. According to the database, more than $250 million has been paid out to doctors in last 2 years.

Jennifer Brokaw from Medical Consult and Advocacy Services said doctors receiving large payments from pharmaceutical companies can be a big problem. “Studies have shown, that gifts as small as a pen with a drug name on it influence prescribing practices of physicians,” she said.

Anderson said he discloses this information to his patients. Brokaw said can that still be a conflict of interest. “The physicians role is to interpret science for the good of their patients and if the physician doesn’t have an unbiased view of the science, how are people supposed to trust what the physicians say?” she said.

To see whether you doctor is receiving payments from pharmaceutical companies visit ProPublica or the Medical Board of California.

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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