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AG: NJ should regulate how much pharm companies pay doctors

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New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino says New Jersey needs to adopt proposed regulations to limit the amount of money pharmaceutical companies can pay doctors. Porrino spoke at a public hearing in Newark, one year after a Kane In Your Corner investigation first raised attention to these “Drug Deals”

The hearing took place on the same day the attorney general’s office announced it was moving to permanently revoke the license of Dr. Kenneth Sun, of Warren County, who is accused of overprescribing the Fentanyl-based painkiller Subsys. The pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug had paid Dr. Sun up to $12,000 per month in consulting fees.

Under the proposed regulations, pharmaceutical companies could only pay each up to $10,000 per year. Speaking fees would not count toward that total. Free meals would have to have a value of $15 or less. 

“We want doctors prescribing medicine because it's the best thing for their patients, not because their judgment is being clouded in any way shape or form by a nice lunch or payment pursuant to a consulting agreement or anything else,” Porrino says.

Last summer, Kane In Your Corner investigated these “Drug Deals,” and found some New Jersey doctors were getting as much as $200,000 a year from pharmaceutical companies. Much of that was from speaking fees, however, which the new regulations would not address.

Some in the pharmaceutical industry and elsewhere contend the proposed regulations, while well-intentioned, could have a negative impact in areas like medical research. “If the cap on payments from manufacturers to physicians applied to clinical trials”, says Douglas Peddicord, Executive Director of the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, “it would be essentially impossible for clinical trials to be conducted in the state of New Jersey.”

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