Lilly fees raise questions about conflict of interest

A psychiatrist who advises the state of Minnesota on which drugs to use in Medicaid programs received $488,953 in speaking fees from Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. over eight years through 2006, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The fees, received by John E. Simon, have raised questions about whether Simon was influenced to recommend that Lilly’s biopolar disorder and schizophrenia drug Zyprexa be used by Medicaid patients in the state.

Simon says his work on the panel wasn’t influenced by the payments, but his voting history is unavailable because votes were not recorded.

The analysis was made possible by strict disclosure requirements. Only Vermont and Maine have similar laws.

State advisory panels, like the one in Minnesota, are considered to have significant influence over the $28 billion spent on drugs each year for Medicaid patients nationwide.

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