Report: Philly doctors received over $1M in free meals from pharmaceutical representatives

Philadelphia City Hall.
Photo credit Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Health Department has compiled a list of what pharmaceutical companies spend on meals to local doctors to market their products. The total comes to $1.3 million.

Health Commissioner Tom Farley says he wants to shine a spotlight on aggressive marketing because he blames it, in part, for the opioid epidemic that is ravaging the city.

"Sales representatives from Purdue started going into doctors' offices and buying them lunch and telling the doctors that their drug, OxyContin, was safe and not addictive, and millions of patients got addicted because of this," Farley said. 

Purdue is now bankrupt, but other companies are still marketing pain pills this way. 

The report lists 25 pain specialists who accepted more than $100 worth of meals. One, Randall Smith, accepted 76 meals, totalling more than $1,000. He did not return a call seeking comment.

Councilmember Cindy Bass sponsored a bill in Council last term to prohibit the practice but it was narrowly defeated. 

She says she'll continue to look for remedies.

"The rate of addiction is still astronomical, the city of Philadelphia is still having way too many people overdose on a daily basis and I don't think we can afford to give up on addressing this blatant flagrant abuse," Bass said.