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How Big Pharma Might Be Paying Your Doctor's Way

Drug companies foot much of the bill for this country's medical research. Now researchers are being forced to disclose the payments.

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• At UC Davis, professor Cameron Carter was reimbursed for $1,046 in travel and meal expenses as a member of an expert opinion panel in September 2009. The meeting included opinion leaders from other universities and a translational-medicine research team from Pfizer. The meeting was about how modern imaging methodologies could inform the treatment development process, a spokeswoman said.

Pfizer also paid UC Davis $53,153 for clinical trials.

• At Stanford, Pfizer awarded assistant professor Niaz Banaei $56,360 to support the study of the accuracy of histopathology for diagnosis of fungal infections. The company's first payment was $11,272, which is what Pfizer reported on its site. Professor John Schroeder received $38,424 for a range of educational consulting activities for the company.

The university also received $89,540 for Pfizer-sponsored research.

UCLA got $323,122 for clinical trials. The university also got $2,188 for professional advising provided by professor Stanley Korenman, who participated in a one-time consultation relating to one of Pfizer’s studies because of his expertise in research ethics. Korenman said through a spokeswoman he received a consultation payment along with a small check to cover his automotive transportation and toll costs.

UC Irvine received $56,710 from Pfizer for clinical trials. A little less than half of the Pfizer funding went to investigational drug studies at the university's Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, according to university spokesman John Murray. He said the balance appears to have funded studies or trials in the UC Irvine School of Medicine, and in the departments of psychiatry and human behavior, ophthalmology, dermatology, anesthesiology and perioperative care, and medicine and pediatrics.

UC San Francisco got $174,631 for Pfizer-sponsored research, along with $38,500 for professional advising by UC Davis professor David Gandara and UCSF professor John Kane. In addition, Kane received $1,048 from Pfizer for advising, meals and travel.

Kane is a member of an advisory panel for Pfizer, providing information on pathways involved in certain diseases so that the pharmaceutical company can decide which directions they might want to pursue, in terms of drugs, according to a university spokeswoman. Kane performs basic research into the molecular species of high-density lipoproteins that are involved in heart disease.

Investigative reporter Erica Perez covers the higher education beat for California Watch.