Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pharmaceutical Industry Practice Of Cheap Free Meals to Doctors Increases Prescriptions For Higher Priced Branded Drugs Over Generics

From Bloomberg, "Doctors Getting Free Meals Pick Branded Drugs More, Study Finds" by Jared S Hopkins:
Doctors who accept free meals from the pharmaceutical industry are more likely to prescribe certain branded drugs to Medicare patients than generics, according to a study published Monday.

The article in JAMA Internal Medicine documents a group of almost 280,000 doctors who received industry-sponsored meals, typically costing less than $20, in 2013. The study found that the doctors more frequently prescribed the four most common brand-name drugs that were available in the Medicare Part D program. In the case of Bystolic, a beta blocker for high blood pressure, physicians who received at least four meals chose the brand 5.4 times as often as generics.

"What was most surprising to me was that such small payments were associated with big differences in physician prescriptions," said Colette Dejong, one of the study’s authors and a research fellow at the Center for Healthcare Value at the University of California at San Francisco. "It was previously thought it takes a certain amount of money to influence a doctor, and the current guidelines are written that way."
What a surprise. Doctors are human after all and behave just like everyone else. Their decisions are not always objective or the best and can be manipulated.

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