National Consumer News

How to tell if your doctor is being paid to steer you to certain drugs


When your doctor writes you a prescription for a particular drug, do you ever wonder if he or she is being paid to do so? Now there’s a way to find out!

Study: Just one free meal can get a doc’s prescription pen moving

A new study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that doctors who received a single free meal from pharmaceutical representatives tend to meet with them and get themselves roped into writing certain prescriptions. It should come as no surprise that said prescriptions have a high-profit margin for the pharmaceutical companies!

The study examined 279,669 physicians who received 63,524 “payments” associated with four target name brand drugs — Crestor for cholesterol problems, Benicar and Bystolic for high blood pressure and Pristiq for depression.

Now here’s the really crazy part: A full 95% of those “payments” given to doctors were meals valued at less than $20!

As the study points out, writing prescriptions for these brand names drug won’t medically harm patients in any way. But the prescriptions will harm their wallets.

The researchers say an estimated $73 billion could be saved annually if equivalent generics were prescribed instead of name brands.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has come out as highly critical of the JAMA study. A spokeswoman for the group says the study “cherry-picks physician prescribing data for a subset of medicines to advance a false narrative.” Furthermore, she claims it fails to prove that free meals influenced prescribing patterns.

The reality is some doctors will write scripts in good faith without knowing the end cost to the patient. And then there are others who are on the payroll of giant pharmaceutical companies. They’ll push drugs irrespective of cost because it pads their pockets.

There were at least $3.5 billion in disclosed payments from drug companies to doctors made between 2009 and 2013, according to an independent news organization called ProPublica.

So is your doc on the take? Use this database to find out

If a doctor is getting big money from certain drug makers, what do you think they’re going to write when you come in? A script from the hundreds of generics that Kroger, Wal-Mart and Target offer for $4? No, they’re going write the brand name that gives them kickbacks!

Could your health care provider be on the take? If you want to see, you can now run their name through the Dollars for Docs database.

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