Business Venture Raises Ethical, Legal Concerns for San Diego Doctors
Some medical experts say a business venture soliciting San Diego-area physicians to refer patients to an independent Canadian firm for prescription medications raises ethical and legal concerns, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. At least 19 physicians in San Diego have invested in the venture, according to a limited partner contact list.
Promoters of the venture ask doctors to invest in a La Jolla company called Shopping Engines Technologies, a "technology company" that generates "software royalty revenue," according to some investment material. Doctors can direct patients to Canada's Shopping Services, which links them to a Canadian pharmacy.
The La Jolla company has a licensing agreement with Shopping Services and doctors would benefit from royalties generated by the deal.
However, William Arroyo, vice chair of the ethics committee for the American Psychiatric Association, said the venture is "ethically problematic" because doctors might benefit financially from their prescription referrals.
There also are legal concerns about the reimportation of prescription drugs, the Union-Tribune reports.
Austin Bosarge, an attorney for Shopping Engine Technologies, said the venture complies with anti-kickback statutes and the Stark Law, which prohibits doctors from referring patients to a company in which they have a financial interest (Crabtree, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/12).