Doctors Convicted Of Felonies Still Paid By Taxpayers

Doctors who have committed crimes are still being paid by taxpayers for doing work for the Food and Drug Administration according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. This work ranges from conducting research for the agency or overseeing the safety of patients in clinical trials. The report takes the FDA to task for slowness in debarring ,( disqualifying ), health professionals who have been convicted of crimes.
The FDA has the authority to debar doctors from overseeing the safety of patients in clinical trials if those health professional flout federal regulations. It is required to disqualify doctors who are convicted of fraud or other crimes. However, it takes the agency an average of four years to disqualify a doctor according to a report issued by the independent Government Accountability Office.
In one instance, according to the article, it took the FDA 11 years to debar a doctor who had been convicted of 53 counts of criminal offenses including bribing an employee to conceal information about the attempted suicide of a clinical-trial patient and prescribing a drug without a license.
Types of misconduct that can get doctors disqualified include submitting false information to the FDA, forging patient consent forms and not reporting when a patient has an adverse reaction to an experimental drug.
The report discloses that even when the FDA bars a doctor from participating in a clinical trial for a drug, that doctor is still allowed to oversee patients in experimental trials that involve medical devices. And, a doctor disqualified from overseeing trials involving medical devices can still participate in drug trials.
The article points out a case in which it took the FDA about five years to disqualify an Alabama doctor who pled guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to more than four years in jail related to a clinical drug trial.
The GAO report recommends that the FDA be given debarment authority for medical devices, and that regulations be rewritten so any doctor debarred from one area of agency regulation is barred from participating in all others.

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