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Nashville Scene
by Brantley Hargrove

In this week\’s cover story, \”Pharm League,\” we take a look at a few Nashville doctors who are top-paid pharmaceutical industry speakers and consultants, attempting to suss out just what these relationships mean. Apparently, there are five Tennessee doctors who made $200,000 or more over the last year or so in speaking and consulting fees — more than any other state. Not surprisingly, three of them are from Nashville. But the diversity of the doctors and their credentials may surprise you. To be sure, you can\’t paint them with a single brush.

So it was interesting to read in yesterday\’s Tennessean that Tennessee is one of a handful of states refusing to give Sen. Chuck Grassley the names of the doctors who prescribe the highest amounts of the most commonly abused medications. Grassley, a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is also the legislator who\’s been on point in Senate investigations of conflicts of interest between medical researchers and Big Pharma.

Grassley surmises (correctly) that over-prescribing is fueling runaway health-care spending. What he\’s likely interested in is why certain docs are such high prescribers? Do they have a bunch of patients who need a bunch of drugs, or are they being incentivized?

In any case, last year 14 Tennessee doctors wrote more than 1,000 prescriptions of the drugs Grassley is curious about, The Tennessean reports. It\’d be interesting to know who they are, and if their names can be found in the available industry disclosures. Pharm League might shed a little light on why that\’s a likelihood.