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Mar-08-2010 01:06printcomments

Disciplined Physicians used as 'Drug Mouthpieces' by Pharmaceutical Companies

"You can't corrupt it. And you know why? Because to corrupt it, you've got to show how corrupt you really are"
Doctors like Paul Goldenheim, MD top, and Dr. Mark Swierzewski, below, have had serious issues in their careers, yet they are still serving in the capacity of spokesmen for different agencies, even after malpractice and criminal convictions. Goldenheim, unlike some of the others, can't even represent big pharma anymore; these days he is a circus spokesman.

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida by writers Kris Hundley and Connie Humburg dealt with physicians marketing for drug companies. As hard as it is to comprehend, some of these speaker physicians have disciplinary action against them[1].

Marianne Skolek

Why send a marketing representative to a physician's office to encourage them to write prescriptions for a drug? Why not use their colleagues to encourage prescribing drugs? Eli Lilly reported spending $22 million on 3,400 speaker-physicians during the first nine months of 2009. These doctors "serve as a credible voices in bringing information to their peers," according to the Lilly Web site. These physicians speak at very expensive dinners paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.

A Glaxo spokeswoman said speakers must certify that they have not been excluded, debarred, suspended from practice or convicted of a criminal offense. Glaxo seems to be acting in a responsible manner.

Dr. Mark Swierzewski has a urology practice in Tampa, Florida and was a paid "drug mouthpiece" by Lilly. The problem with Swierzewski is that he was disciplined in 2004 by the Florida and New York Boards of Medicine for "failing to keep legible medical records." Regulators found that Swierzewski had prescribed two drugs for unapproved uses without doing appropriate lab tests or considering possible side effects[2].

Swierzewski's partner is Dr. Tod Fusia. Fusia was the primary surgeon and Swierzewski his assistant during an operation in October 2002 that resulted in the death of Al Greenway, a Plant High School teacher. Greenway, 53, had a cancerous kidney. A third surgeon was called in to repair the error, but Greenway died the next day[3].

Fusia and Swierzewski's insurer paid a $1 million settlement for medical malpractice in the Greenway case.

So why are physicians involved in medical malpractice lawsuits on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies as speakers to market drugs?

Dr. David Lubin of Tampa, Florida is a family practice physician and has attended numerous dinner meetings where physicians market drugs to their colleagues. Lubin doesn't have a problem with physicians who have been disciplined being used by pharmaceutical companies as "drug mouthpieces." In fact Lubin was quoted as saying "Just because someone has been disciplined doesn't mean they're necessarily a bad doctor."

I know -- I read Lubin's comment a few times and have to admit, it stuns me. I guess I'd have to ask him to define the meaning of "bad doctor" in his world.

After reading the well written article in the St. Petersburg Times, I did a little "current activity" research on Paul Goldenheim, MD, former medical director of Purdue Pharma -- who was charged, pleaded guilty, fined and put on probation in 2007 in Federal court. I wondered if this convicted individual is a paid spokesperson for the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, the Connecticut Medical Board did not discipline him for misleading physicians and patients as to the addictive and abusive qualities of OxyContin -- Purdue Pharma's billion dollar baby. But the Health and Human Services is disciplining Goldenheim -- and big time.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on January 9, 2009, Administrative Law Judge Carolyn Cozad Hughes affirmed the OIG's imposition of a 15-year exclusion from all Federal health care programs against Michael Friedman, Paul Goldenheim, MD, and Howard Udell for their roles as responsible corporate officers who failed to prevent misbranding and fraudulent distribution of OxyContin. Their lack of responsibility has resulted in a modern day Holocaust of death and addiction in every state in the country as well as Canada. This 15 year exclusion is currently on appeal by Friedman, Goldenheim and Udell[4].

I was unable to determine if Goldenheim is a paid "drug mouthpiece" for the pharmaceutical industry, but I did discover that Goldenheim is on the Board of Directors of the Big Apple Circus. The circus advertises that they do more than put on an engaging and magical performance. Their commitment is to kids and their families which has always been at the center of their vision. Since the Big Apple Circus is so committed to kids and their families, may I suggest they consider having Goldenheim feed the lions --
from inside of the lions cage.

[1] March-01-2010: Tampa Bay doctors with disciplinary records speak for drug companies

[2] June-22-2006: New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct

[3] Oct-30-2002: Patient dies in robot-aided surgery St. Petersburg Times

[4] Jan-09-2009: Department of Health and Human Services DEPARTMENTAL APPEALS BOARD

=========================================== Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's who pled guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 7-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
You can send Marianne an email at:

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