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Drug firms say they'll take closer look at the docs they pay

Several of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies said they plan to tighten screening of physicians who promote their drugs after ProPublica reported last month that more than 250 of them had been sanctioned for misconduct.

Eli Lilly and Co. said that next year, for the first time, it would hire an outside firm to search for state disciplinary actions against its hired speakers and advisers. Lilly, the seventh-largest company by U.S. prescription sales, did not previously conduct such screening and was unaware of the dozens of actions ProPublica found against its speakers.

"Your reporting has raised valid and important questions, which we have taken steps to address," spokesman J. Scott MacGregor said in a statement.

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