In 2010, as state health officials were investigating allegations that Dr. Gerson Sternstein of Berlin was overmedicating patients, three pharmaceutical companies were showering thousands of dollars on the psychiatrist for meals and speaking engagements. Some of the payments continued even after his license was suspended in August 2010.
Similarly, Dr. Murray Wellner of West Hartford was the beneficiary of speaking fees and meals from four drug companies last year, even as federal prosecutors were investigating allegations that he wrote out 11 illegal prescriptions for controlled substances—charges he settled in April by paying a $42,500 fine.
Sternstein and Wellner are among the most striking examples of doctors in Connecticut who have reaped benefits from pharmaceutical companies while also being disciplined for violating medical conduct rules, according to records of the state Department of Public Health and public disclosures by drug companies from 2009 to 2011. That dual status—drug company beneficiary and over-prescriber—is not uncommon, experts say.
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