Study reports that prescribing is influenced by drug company contributions

A recent study investigated the influence of entertaining physicians in the US on prescriber decisions and found that doctors who are paid and entertained by drug companies are more than twice as likely to prescribe their products.

The study of 334,000 physicians, released last week, showed that ‘doctors receiving only small and / or infrequent payments are also affected.‘ The authors – Joseph Engelberg and Christopher Parsons at the Rady School of Management, University of California at San Diego, and Nathan Tefft from the School of Public Health at the University of Washington – used recently released data that 12 companies have been forced to make public as a result of US regulatory settlements.

It was reported that a typical doctor had a 13% chance of prescribing the drugs of some of the leading pharmaceutical companies, of those who received meals or speaking / consulting fees from the companies, the probability increased to almost 30 per cent.

The paper concludes ‘Using data from twelve drug companies, more than 330,000 physicians and nearly one billion prescriptions, we find that when a drug company pays a doctor he is more likely to prescribe that company’s drugs. A payment from a pharmaceutical company corresponds to, on average, an additional 29 Medicare prescriptions per year, and this number rises to nearly 100 prescriptions if the payment is at least $1000.

The report also stated that ‘the pay-for-prescription sensitivity is greater for doctors among high-corruption states and for male doctors.’

Related news:

Drug company contributions can ‘influence’ medical decisions (Financial Times)

Reference links:

First, Do No Harm: Financial Conflicts in Medicine (Report)

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