"Follow the money": Big Pharma swindles insurance, Medicare and consumers
Big Pharma ostensibly is having its sails trimmed—a little too late, but it’s about time!
The recent opioid scandal; ‘perennial’ prescription drug class action lawsuits, e.g., Vioxx, etc. [1,2]; the ever-present vaccine fraud no one wants to ‘touch’; and now, the recent study “Influence of pharmaceutical marketing on Medicare prescriptions in the District of Columbia” published October 25, 2017 in PLOS/One wherein the following collusion-like activity on the part of both pharmaceutical makers and MDs is confirmed by following the money trail.
Gifts from pharmaceutical companies are believed to influence prescribing behavior, but few studies have addressed the association between industry gifts to physicians and drug costs, prescription volume, or preference for generic drugs.
The results of the above study are nothing short of incriminating!
In 2013, 1,122 (39.1%) of 2,873 Medicare Part D prescribers received gifts from pharmaceutical companies totaling $3.9 million in 2013. Compared to non-gift recipients, gift recipients prescribed 2.3 more claims per patient, prescribed medications costing $50 more per claim, and prescribed 7.8% more branded drugs. [….]
Physicians who received small gifts (less than $500 annually) had more expensive claims ($114 vs. $85) and more branded claims (30.3% vs. 25.7%) than physicians who received no gifts. Those receiving large gifts (greater than $500 annually) had the highest average costs per claim ($189) and branded claims (39.9%) than other groups.
In the Conclusions part of that study, we find this candid and indicting statement:
Gifts from pharmaceutical companies are associated with more prescriptions per patient, more costly prescriptions, and a higher proportion of branded prescriptions with variation across specialties. Gifts of any size had an effect and larger gifts elicited a larger impact on prescribing behaviors. Our study confirms and expands on previous work showing that industry gifts are associated with more expensive prescriptions and more branded prescriptions. Industry gifts influence prescribing behavior, may have adverse public health implications, and should be banned.
If you don’t happen to realize, the above ‘costs of doing business’ result in the cost of healthcare for everyone increasing at all levels. Furthermore, the practice of “gifting” medical professionals should be considered a crime—similar to rebating in the insurance industry , and illegal in most states.
Big Pharma gifts influence MDs script writing, which affects Medicare, Medicaid, and all healthcare insurance policies, coverages and, ultimately, premiums insureds pay.
Where is oversight on the pharmaceutical industry?
Why aren’t Congress, federal health agencies and state insurance departments doing their jobs? Or, are they also too caught up in being gifted by Big Pharma’s lobbyists to realize what’s happening with a ‘runaway freight train’?
The More Lavish the Gifts to Doctors, the Costlier the Drugs They Prescribe