A Philadelphia foot doctor was named one of a few dozen physicians across the nation who have earned more than $200,000 in lucrative parttime speaking and consulting work for drug companies.
Dr. Warren S. Joseph, of Huntingdon Valley, was No. 5 on ProPublica's list of "Top Earners," one of a handful of doctors who grossed more than $500,000 from the pharmaceutical giants. ProPublica is a nonprofit news organization devoted to investigative journalism. The list of doctors is the latest in their series, Dollars for Docs.
Joseph practices podiatry at Roxborough Memorial Hospital.
During the last four years, Joseph reaped $652,412 in speaking, consulting, travel and other fees from three pharmaceutical companies.
A psychiatrist from Costa Mesa, Ca. nudged Joseph out of 4th place by a few thousand dollars.
Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Pfizer were Joseph's most generous benefactors. In 2012 alone, Pfizer paid Joseph more than $140,000 in fees, Merck contributed more than $44,000. He earned a few thousand more from Valeant Inc., a Canadian drug company with U.S. headquarters in Bridgeton, N.J.
Joseph acknowledged the payments in an email to Philly.com.
"All of my lectures given for the Pharma industry follow strict FDA guidelines and are consistent with the corporate integrity agreements entered into between the companies and the government," Joseph said. "There is full disclosure of this fact at all lectures."
In a 2010 story in the Inquirer, Joseph acknowledged receiving drug company money. By getting the word out, "I'm saving limbs," he told reporter Faye Flam.
In his email to Philly.com, Joseph reinterated:
Some organizations have an agenda to make interactions between Pharma and doctors somehow seem nefarious. Let me give you some statistics if you want the REAL story: There are 28 million people in the US with diabetes. About 350 million worldwide (and yes, I have lectured around the world on this topic). It used to be said that someone in the world loses a limb to diabetes every 30 seconds. That is now down to every 20 seconds. Diabetes is the cause for about 70-80,000 amputations per year in the US alone.
Yes, I go out and spread this information to my colleagues and it is often paid for by industry.
However, by doing so I know I have saved countless limbs and lives.
Frankly, I don't see anything nefarious about that. Only good.
According to a document posted on the Ardmore-based Podiatry Online, Joseph is a popular speaker and gives frequent dinner lectures on diabetic foot infections and drug-resistant fungal and bacterial infections.
Joseph is also the editor of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association and the author of the Handbook of Lower Extremity Infections.
Has your doctor received drug company money? Check ProPublica's database of 2 million records here.
This story was updated at 9 a.m. Mar. 13 to include Joseph's response.