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AstraZeneca Allegedly Paid Psychiatrist to Over-Prescribe Anti-Psychotic Medication to Patients

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The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca may have found it’s most lucrative salesman yet when they discovered Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein. Indeed, Reinstein was allegedly bringing the company a small fortune in sales by promoting the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel to his mentally ill patients in Chicago-area nursing homes. Furthermore, Reinstein allegedly published research findings that promoted the effectiveness of the drug.

AstraZeneca allegedly paid Reinstein over $490,000 over a decade to peddle their drug. During the same time period, Reinstein faced accusations from his colleagues at the Maxwell Manor nursing home where he worked that he overmedicated his patients. In fact, complaints from patients were so bad that a security guard had to accompany Reinstein on his visits to the nursing home. Some staffers even accused him of convincing patients to take the powerful antipsychotic drug by promising them they would receive passes to leave the nursing home. However, Maxwell Manor closed its doors in 2000, after state officials shut it down for inadequate care and wretched conditions. Now Dr. Reinstein works for other Chicago-area nursing homes and apparently has continued his drug-peddling ways.

While it isn’t illegal for doctors to be paid for conducting research on behalf of drugmakers, health professionals who have encountered Dr. Reinstein have had similar concerns as those of his former colleagues at Maxwell Manor. For example, the case manager at Grasmere Place nursing home in Chicago wondered why Dr. Reinstein put his patients on twice as many drugs as other psychiatrists at the nursing home. There is not a federal lawsuit against AstraZeneca for their actions in paying Dr. Reinstein to allegedly over-prescribe Seroquel. Specifically, court documents show that Reinstein ordered Seroquel for as many as 1,000 Chicago-area Medicaid patients per year, which cost taxpayers as estimated $7.6 million per year. AstraZeneca maintains that they did not profit from the increase in Seroquel sales in Chicago. Rather, they continue to argue that they paid Dr. Reinstein for his promotional work and research only.