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Financial Connection Between Docs and Pharmaceutical Companies Stronger than Ever

Pills and moneyThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released data that demonstrates the cozy relationship between doctors and drug and device companies.  In 2016, drug and medical device companies spent $8.18 billion on doctors-lavishing them with travel, research, gifts, speaking fees, meals, and ownership or investment interest.  These gifts are generally not known by the public and should cause concern about the vast influence these industries hold over physicians.

The latest data release comes on the heels of a study earlier this year that found that about 65 percent of patients in the United States visited a doctor who received payments from drug companies, although most have no idea about the payments.

“These findings tell us that if you thought that your doctor was not receiving any money from industry, you’re most likely mistaken,” said study author Genevieve Pham-Kantor, an assistant professor at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Patients should be aware of the incentives that their physicians face that may lead them to not always act in their patients’ best interest. And the more informed patients are about their providers and options for care, the better decisions they can make.”

This financial influence can play an important if not ethnically questionable role in patient care.  Certain specialists were more likely to receive payments than others, according to the study, which found that 85 percent of patients who visited an orthopedic surgeon saw a doctor who had received a payment, while 77 percent of those who saw an obstetrician or gynecologist saw a doctor who had received a payment.

Thanks in large part to certain provisions in the Affordable Care Act, this financial data demonstrating the relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical and medical device companies is available to the public.  However, repeal of the ACA may jeopardize this transparency.

“Drug companies have long known that even small gifts to physicians can be influential, and research validates the notion that they tend to induce feelings of reciprocity,” said study co-author Michelle Mello of Stanford.

In fact, a 2016 study found exactly that. Researchers at the University of California found that doctors who had received a free meal valued at less than $20 from a company promoting a particular drug had significantly higher rates of prescribing that drug as compared to other drugs in the same class. Doctors who had received free meals from pharma companies were up to twice as likely to promote the name-brand drug as doctors who had not. And doctors who had received multiple meals were as much as three times as likely to prescribe the name brand drug.

We already know that academic research concerning the efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices has been questioned due to murky financial relationships.  When a doctor treating patients has an unknown or hidden relationship with a drug company or a medical device company, it’s all the more dangerous.


The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Announce a Sexual Abuse Compensation Plan

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn announced last week that it will offer a sexual abuse victim compensation plan similar to the one the Archdiocese of New York began last year. The Brooklyn program will initially consider the cases of about 280 abuse victims already known to the diocese, for claims of abuse that date toContinue Reading

Uber Facing Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Uber, a rapidly expanding entrepreneurial venture intended to compete with traditional cab services, is facing lawsuits alleging Uber drivers sexually assaulted their passengers.  In October 2015, a sexual abuse lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Uber patrons who allege they were assaulted by their Uber drivers on two separated and unrelated occasions.  The mostContinue Reading

Federal Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleges Surgeons Performing Multiple Surgeries Simultaneously

A federal whistleblower lawsuit filed against one of Boston’s premier hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital, alleges that orthopedic surgeons would perform surgeries on more than one patient at a time, leaving the patient under anesthesia for more than an hour, longer than it was medically necessary or safe to do so. The lawsuit brought by formerContinue Reading

Power Morcellators Suspended But Not Recalled-What’s the Big Deal?

Amy J. Reed, MD, has died, 4 years after her surgery that used a power morcellator to remove her uterus.  Dr. Reed’s surgery was performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where she and her husband held teaching positions.  A biopsy post surgery was the first diagnosis of Reed’s cancer—the morcellator had sprayed herContinue Reading

FDA Orders Black Box Warning for Invokana

The Food and Drug Administration has added a black box warning for type-2 diabetes drug Invokana due to the risk of users suffering foot and leg amputations. “Based on new data from two large clinical trials, the FDA has concluded that the type 2 diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) causes an increased riskContinue Reading

New Study Finds More than 30% of FDA Approved Drugs Have Safety Issues

A research study conducted by Yale University researchers has determined that 32% of FDA approved drugs have safety issues.  The study has been published in the May issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. While many of the safety issues found do not warrant removal from the marketplace, the researchers noted that theirContinue Reading

New Mexico Judge Orders Zimmer Inc to Pay Millions

After a two week trial in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a judge cited “unreasonably dangerous design,” and ordered medical device manufacturer Zimmer Inc. to pay more than $2 million to a New Mexico man for a defective Zimmer Kinectiv hip implant. In the verdict, Judge Nan G. Nash highlighted that Zimmer was liable for manufacturing andContinue Reading

Multi-Million Dollar Verdict in Ethicon Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson has again been ordered to pay out millions to a woman who suffered serious injuries after being implanted with one of their vaginal mesh devices. In Philadelphia, A jury found for a plaintiff and awarded a $20 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division, over complications with the Ethicon TVT-Secur transvaginalContinue Reading

As Xarelto Trial Begins, Manufacturers Deny Drug’s Risks

As the first Xarelto bellwether trial began last week in New Orleans, drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Bayer were on the defensive attempting to deny allegations that they didn’t reveal the serious dangers caused by the blood thinner. While Xarelto has been a blockbuster drug for its manufacturers, thanks in large part to televisionContinue Reading

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