Related Story Is your doctor getting money from drug companies?
PASADENA - The nation's largest pharmaceutical companies doled out millions of dollars to Pasadena-area health care professionals for speaking engagements and professional services between 2010 and 2012, according to a recently released ProPublica database.
The City of Hope in Duarte received more than $625,000 from pharmaceutical companies to conduct research in 2011 and 2012, according to the database.
Pasadena-based plastic surgeon John Edward Gross received more than $770,000 from Allergan, the maker of Botox and some breast implants.
In 2011-12, Allergan paid Gross to conduct research, consult, serve on health care panels and business travel.
"What I'm doing for Allergan is to advance breast surgery," said Gross, a board certified surgeon and a former chemical engineer. "Much of the research you do is industry-supported. They have a motivation to make better and new products."
Gross said his interest is advancing breast surgery for the treatment of breast cancer. He has also consulted for Allergan's competitor.
"I'm an equal opportunity consultant," he said.
Indiana-based Eli Lilly, whose products include cancer and diabetes drugs, gave the City of Hope more than $389,000 for research by various practitioners at the center.
City of Hope also received $12,500 from Novartis for speaking engagements by Dr.Warren Allen Chow, a staff oncologist, in 2011-12.
Pfizer paid City of Hope $2,250 to have Chow speak in 2011.
City of Hope spokeswoman Tami Dennis said much of the money received has been to fund clinical trials.
"The money we get from pharmaceutical companies funds clinical trials on some of the most promising drug compounds," Dennis said.
Regarding drug company-funded speaking engagements, "we have a very strict conflict-of-interest policy. We don't prohibit our faculty from speaking, but we review any and all requests and all speaking engagements must be reported," Dennis said.
Huntington Hospital in Pasadena - a not-for-profit facility - did not receive any monies from pharmaceutical companies, according to the database.
Dozens of private doctors in the Pasadena area have received payments from drug companies for such services.
Dr. Max Rudolph Lehfedlt, a plastic surgeon who has a Pasadena office, received more than $220,000 from Allergan in 2011-12 for similar services.
Dr. Zeid K. Kayali received $42,000 from Merck for speaking engagements in 2011.
Dr. Eric Walsh, Pasadena's public health director, said there is always the possibility of a conflict when a doctor or hospital receives money from a drug company.
"I don't think you can receive something from a company and there not be some possibility of a conflict of interest," Walsh said. "We need to be careful."
However, in defense of drug companies, Walsh said, "they do spend fortunes in researching and developing these products" and "many save countless lives."