Doctors Who Have "Close Relationships" With Drug Makers Prescribe Newer, Pricier Drugs

The New York Times is examining doctors who take money from drug companies for ‘educational’ speaking engagements in which they lecture other doctors about the company’s drugs. The NYT says research shows that “doctors who have close relationships with drug makers tend to prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs — whether or not they are in the best interests of patients.” From the NYT:

“When honest human beings have a vested stake in seeing the world in a particular way, they’re incapable of objectivity and independence,” said Max H. Bazerman, a professor at Harvard Business School. “A doctor who represents a pharmaceutical company will tend to see the data in a slightly more positive light and as a result will overprescribe that company’s drugs.”

In Minnesota, a state in which drug company payouts are disclosed to the public, “More than 250 … psychiatrists together earned $6.7 million in drug company money — more than any other specialty. Seven of the last eight presidents of the Minnesota Psychiatric Society have served as consultants to drug makers, according to the Times examination.”

A former drug company representative was forthright in her explanation of the phrama industry’s goals:

“The vast majority of the time that we did any sort of paid relationship with a physician, they increased the use of our drug,” said Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, a former sales representative for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson who left the industry in 2002. “I hate to say it out loud, but it all comes down to ways to manipulate the doctors.”

This is all the more reason you should research the medicines you take and discuss them with your doctor. Consumer Reports “Best Buy Drugs” is an excellent place to start. —MEGHANN MARCO

Doctors’ Ties to Drug Makers Are Put on Close View [New York Times]
(Photo: zieak)