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A federal watchdog agency has issued an unusual warning to the pharmaceutical industry to avoid using kickbacks — specifically, under the guise of so-called speaker programs — to entice doctors to write more prescriptions.

In a special fraud alert, the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services strongly advised drug makers to think twice before rewarding high-prescribing physicians with speaking deals, conditioning speaking payments based on prescribing targets, or holding programs at venues — such as high-priced restaurants, wineries, or golf clubs — that are not conducive to education.

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