With virtually unlimited information available to anyone, why should pharmaceutical companies be advertising directly to the public or making payments to physicians to influence their prescribing?
Why do we encourage the use (overuse) of prescription mediation?
Why don’t we have a fact based website where physicians and patients can learn about and evaluate the appropriateness of all medications along with their cost?
Why isn’t the US utilizing the power of technology to make health care better coordinated, more efficient, less of an administrative burden on providers and possibly of higher quality?
A group of researchers at Harvard Medical School has found that medical industry payments to physicians in Massachusetts are associated with higher rates of prescribing brand-name drugs that treat high cholesterol.
The study’s finding, published today in JAMA Internal Medicine, is in line with a ProPublica analysis and story from March, which showed that physicians who receive industry money tend to prescribe higher rates of brand-name drugs — and thus, lower rates of similarly effective, more affordable generic drugs — when compared to peers.
An aim of the study, said lead author Dr. James S. Yeh, was to determine and reduce any industry influence that could produce bad behavior.
“You want your doctors to be objective rather than doing something because there is a financial gain, be it subconscious or conscious,” Yeh said. “That’s not the way we should be doing medicine.”
Yeh added that not all industry relationships with physicians are problematic. Often pharmaceutical companies fund large research projects that could produce advances in medical care.
The Harvard study concluded that physicians’ rate of prescribing brand-name statins — the category of drugs that treat high cholesterol — increased by 0.1 percent for every $1,000 in industry money received. Under $2,000 in payments, there was no significant increase in brand-name prescribing.
The findings, by researchers at Harvard Medical School, are in line with a similar analysis done by ProPublica in March.