Drugmaker paid doctors with problem records to promote its pill
By Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, CNN Investigates
December 4, 2017
New Jersey psychiatrist Dinesh Patel appeared to have an untarnished record until he came under investigation by the state in March last year, and was found to have inappropriately kept a patient on lithium for more than a decade. But even after being placed on probation by the state medical board for “gross negligence” in the treatment of this patient, who ultimately suffered kidney failure, Patel continued to receive thousands of dollars in speaking payments from Avanir and Otsuka. Government data shows a payment was made to him as recently as November 2016 (though it’s unclear when that speech was made), and Patel received almost $80,000 from Avanir between 2013 and 2016 — most of which was for speaking.
As part of Patel’s probation with the medical board, he was ordered to complete a comprehensive assessment of his skills, and failed three different exams about psychiatry, ethics and the therapeutic uses and effects of drugs. After that, the medical board demanded in November of 2016 that he stop all prescribing — limiting him to only verbal psychiatry.
Even after completing recommended education and retaking the exams, he failed all three again and proceeded to permanently retire from medical practice (without admission of wrongdoing) and voluntarily retire his New Jersey medical license in July of 2017.
Patel declined to comment for this story, but he did confirm that he is no longer a practicing psychiatrist.
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