aNewDomain commentary — Physicians and pharmaceutical companies have always been linked somewhat, but thanks to legal settlements now available on Pro Publica, details on how they are financially linked are beginning to emerge.
The details are troubling, to say the least.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Drug Companies Give The Most to Doctors?
As of 2014, 17 drug companies published information on the payments they make to doctors and other health professionals for promotional talks, research and consulting.
You, too, can search companies and doctors with this Pro Publica tool.
Here are 10 companies who have given the most to physicians, according to the newly released information:
- Genentech, Inc. — $388 million
- DePuy Synthes Products LLC — $94.7 million
- Topera, Inc. — $93.1 million
- AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP — $90.9 million
- Stryker Corporation — $90.8 million
- Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc. — $85 million
- Pfizer Inc. — $82.1 million
- Allergan Inc. — $70.7 million
- Zimmer Holding Inc. — $70.5 million
- Arthrex, Inc. — $58.9 million
Patients aren’t the only people alarmed by this trend. A number of doctors say they think the system needs to change, too.
“A Growing Intrusion”
Dr. Philip A. Pizza of the Standford University Medical Center wrote a post, “A Categorical No-Thank-You,” that highlights his disgust with the current system. He writes:
During the past 10 to 20 years, there has been a growing intrusion of pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers into the day-to-day practice of medicine. Industry gifts—pads, pens, logo bags, and the like—have grown commonplace. In many doctors’ offices, hospitals, and medical centers, the free lunch, courtesy of industry sponsors, has turned into an accepted way of life. And these gifts can also include dinners at expensive restaurants (to hear a lecture by a physician also being compensated by industry) or free travel to meetings at fancy resorts (to participate in a medical education event sponsored by industry).”
Pizza is one of many who realize the institution has sold out. He wants the profession to develop guidelines for physician participation in “speakers bureaus,” which offer generous honoraria from companies for taking part in presentations related to company products.
According to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” nine of the top 10 drug makers spend more money on marketing than they do on research. And most of that money is spent marketing to doctors, rather than consumers. The episode is an insightful and hilarious take on the topic at hand — watch it below.
Seriously, ask your doctor if they would wear a lab coat with their sponsors embroidered on. See what they say.
Featured image: Courtesy dcincome
Body image: Assorted Pills via Wikimedia Commons