A new study confirms that just one free meal from a pharmaceutical company
can influence a doctor’s prescribing habits. Researchers found that
physicians were more likely to prescribe the drugmaker’s brand name
medication, even when less expensive generics would provide the same benefits.
As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, conflicts
of interest in the medical industry are a growing concern. A new federal
database used to track payments made to physicians by pharmaceutical and
medical device companies revealed that 4.3 million industry payments totaling
$3.4 billion were made to more than 470 000 physicians and 1,000 teaching
hospitals in the last 5 months of 2013.
In the latest study, researchers from the University of California, San
Francisco compared pharmaceutical payment data from late 2013 and prescribing
data for the same period from doctors treating Medicare patients with
four common drugs for heart conditions or depression. As
Reuters reports, the brand name drugs analyzed in the study have been widely determined
to be no better than their generic counterparts.
In total, nearly 280,000 doctors received more than 60,000 payments associated
with the four target drugs. Sponsored meals, on average less than $20
each, accounted for 95 percent of the payments.
The study, which was published in
JAMA Internal Medicine, found a strong association between industry payments to physicians and
prescribing rates of the brand-name medications. Physicians who received
a single meal promoting the drug of interest had higher rates of prescribing
it. In addition, the receipt of additional meals and receipt of meals
costing more than $20 were associated with higher relative prescribing rates.
“We should be advocating for drug and device manufacturers to spend
less on promoting their products and more on independent bona fide research
on safety, effectiveness and affordability,” said Dr. Robert Steinbrook,
an editor at JAMA Internal Medicine and a professor at Yale University
School of Medicine.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a dangerous
or defective drug or medical device, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free
consultation. Our legal team has successfully represented clients against
manufacturers and distributors of medical devices for more than 30 years.