Yes, Drug Corps Bribe Doctors & Pay For 50% of Scientific Studies

Susanne Posel (OC) : ProPublica has published a report that shows “doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed tend to prescribe drugs differently than their colleagues who don’t.”

Prescription_MD_SP_OCUsing data from 2014 on “payments from pharmaceutical and medical device makers” and matching it with “corresponding data on doctors’ medication choices in Medicare’s prescription drug program”, ProPublica determined that “doctors who got money from drug and device makers—even just a meal– prescribed a higher percentage of brand-name drugs overall than doctors who didn’t.”

When a physician received an excess of $5,000 from drug companies, they prescribed the “highest brand-name” pharmaceuticals. This amounted to 30% of the doctors analyzed.

Doctors who took payments from the industry “and had above-average prescribing rates of brand-name drugs said they are acting in patients’ best interest.”

ProPublica chronicled several doctors who received compensation for their prescribing habits:

  • A NJ doctor who “received more than $66,800 from companies in 2014 and whose brand-name prescribing rate was more than twice the mean of his peers in internal medicine”
  • A physician from Kansas who is known to prescribe “more than twice the rate of brand-name drugs” and also “received $11,700 in payments in 2014”
  • A doctor from Brooklyn who received $53,400 for prescribing “a much higher proportion of brand-name drugs than his peers in 2014”

Aaron Kesselheim, associate professor of medicine for Harvard Medical School (HMS) and contributor to the report said: “It again confirms the prevailing wisdom … that there is a relationship between payments and brand-name prescribing. This feeds into the ongoing conversation about the propriety of these sorts of relationships. Hopefully we’re getting past the point where people will say, ‘Oh, there’s no evidence that these relationships change physicians’ prescribing practices.’”

This practice benefits drug companies because “brand-name drugs typically cost more”; and creates an environment of variation depending on geo-location even though the problem is nationwide.

For example, “the rate in Nevada, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina was twice as high as in Vermont, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maine.”

In response to the report, Holly Campbell, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PRMA), said there are “many factors affect doctors’ prescribing decisions”, and cited a 2011 survey commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry that claimed 9 out of 10 doctors prescribed drugs based on their “clinical knowledge and experience” only.

Campbell also said: “Working together, biopharmaceutical companies and physicians can improve patient care, make better use of today’s medicines and foster the development of tomorrow’s cures. Physicians provide real-world insights and valuable feedback and advice to inform companies about their medicines to improve patient care.”

Along with bribing doctors to sell more of their drugs, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHB) published a study in 2015 showing that a startling number of scientific research is paid for by corporations, while the number of studies financed by the government is dwindling.

The reason for this discrepancy is “a decline in discretionary spending by the US federal government.”

According to the study, “these changes mean industry-funded clinical trials have a growing influence compared to government-supported trials. While companies have a vested interest in the outcomes of their clinical trials, government-financed trials often lead to prevention and treatment recommendations.”

These findings correlate with a report published earlier this year which found that 1 in 10 board members at for-profit healthcare corporations were also researchers from academic or nonprofit institutions.

In order to limit the amount of cross-contamination in the field of scientific research, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates all “pharmaceutical and medical device companies report any payments made to physicians and medical centers; including funding for research, travel, honorariums, speaking fees, meals and educational items.”

Susanne Posel, Occupy Corporatism

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