Something we all long suspected has finally been confirmed. Some doctors do prescribe drugs because the pharmaceutical company pay them to do so according to a recent report from ProPublica. See NPR article. These doctors have a vested interest in prescribing these sometime dangerous drugs. The drug industry rewards them with high speaking fees.
The report is based on financial data and prescriptions of specific drugs, like Bystolic, an expensive new drug that hit the market in 2008. The drug came into a market flooded with generic brands, prescriptions of generics pricing at as little as $4, whereas Bystolic comes in at a much higher price tag. ProPublica looked at the data and found a connection. Doctors who had been paid for their services at talks and presentations prescribed the drug more than other doctors, making up a majority of those doctors who prescribe the drug.
Not only does this cut significantly into Medicare dollars, and subsequently, tax dollars, but it also represents a concerning trend among American physicians. Bystolic doesn’t work better than any of the other generic drugs, it does the same job as the others. But doctors are prescribing it based on consulting fees. Doctors are supposed to do no harm. They’re clearly harming the Medicare system, taking advantage of a flawed system because they want to make a quick buck.
If a drug has adverse effects, do doctors still prescribe it because they’re cashing in? There are a lot of serious ethical concerns to this practice that is commonplace among American doctors. The connection between prescriptions and the padding in doctors’ paychecks represents a system of kickbacks and bribery that amounts to what basically constitutes as Medicare fraud. Now that there’s proof of this practice, time will tell if regulations become stricter.