My answer?

A resounding “NO!”

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pharmaceutical productsPhysician William D. Leak was found to have performed unnecessary nerve tests and excessive invasive procedures, including injecting some patients with agents that destroy nerve tissue. But that didn’t stop Eli Lilly from using him as a promotional speaker and adviser.

Leak is part of the drug industry’s sales force of doctors who are paid to promote brand-name drugs to their peers. Drug companies claim they hire the most-respected doctors in their fields for this purpose.

But an investigation has uncovered hundreds of doctors on company payrolls who have been accused of professional misconduct or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists.

But as an analysis by ProPublica found, drug companies are not always hiring “experts” to act as spokespeople. Instead, they’re often hiring the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, including physicians who have some concerning pasts.

ProPublica has put together a comprehensive database that reveals just how much drug companies are paying doctors, and you can even search for your own doctor to find out if he or she is being paid by the industry.

They compiled data from seven drug companies, including nearly $258 million in physician payouts since 2009, and found some revealing data about the paid speakers and consultants.

  • Sanctions against more than 250 speakers
  • Some of the doctors had lost their licenses
  • More than 40 have received FDA warnings for research misconduct, lost hospital privileges or been convicted of crimes

The idea that drug companies are recruiting only top experts and consummate professionals to do their promotions is a myth. In some cases, there are reputable physicians on their payroll, but many of the most prestigious universities, including Harvard, are now banning their staff from receiving money from drug companies for speaking.

Instead, industry whistleblowers have alleged that drug companies choose their speakers, as ProPublica reported, “on their prescription potential rather than their true credentials.”

Sociologist Susan Chimonas, who researches doctor-pharma relationships, told ProPublica:

“It’s sort of like American Idol … Nobody will have necessarily heard of you before — but after you’ve been around the country speaking 100 times a year, people will begin to know your name and think, ‘This guy is important.’ It creates an opinion leader who wasn’t necessarily an expert before.”

So the physicians being paid to counsel your physician — who in turn may influence the drugs you end up taking — are not only biased in favor of the drug company that is paying them a substantial fee, they may be vastly underqualified as well.

They attack the market on multiple levels. For instance, many of the articles that appear in medical journals purportedly written by well-known academics are actually written by unacknowledged ghostwriters on Big Pharma payroll.

Drug companies also employ an army of reps who often give gifts to convince doctors to prescribe the medications that they represent. These drug reps usually have no medical or science education. What they do have, however, is training in tactics that are on par with some of the most potent brainwashing techniques used throughout the world.

Worse yet, drug companies have compiled hit lists of doctors to be “neutralized” or discredited because they were speaking out against certain drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies actually spend almost twice as much on marketing than research, and this is how they are able to keep their medications front and center in your physician’s, and possibly your, mind.

So please remember first and foremost that drug companies are nearly always trying to sell you something that there are better natural solutions for. And your physician, too, if he or she is intertwined in the conventional medical field, may be inappropriately advising you to take drugs when better options exist.