SMITH COUNTY (KLTV) - Nineteen-point-five million dollars that's how much money was funneled down to hundreds of doctors across the state from pharmaceutical companies.
But why are big name drug companies pumping so much cash into the hands of doctors, including doctors here in East Texas.
We discovered that only seven of the more than 70 drug companies across the county are disclosing to propublica.org the payments they've made to doctors. There are 2,003 payments listed totaling $19M and that's just for Texas physicians.
KLTV MedTeam Dr. Ed Dominguez serves as a consultant for drug companies, "I'll be going to New Jersey this weekend to help a company develop a drug that I will not be prescribing, but to help them monitor the side effects of this drug as they go through clinical trial," says Dr. Ed.
Dominguez says the payments are to cover the time the doctor spends away from their own practice, "You have to make up that revenue. It is not a payment for prescribing or using certain services; it's a payment for my expertise and my thoughts and opinions regarding the way these medicines are provided."
Is this a conflict of interest for doctors? East Texas Medical Center tells us it's not uncommon for drug companies to pay consulting fees to medical experts. Mother Frances hospital tells us it tries to limit drug company access to their doctors.
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