5 Shady Ways Big Pharma May Be Influencing Your Doctor

AlterNet: “When it comes to acknowledging the influence of gifts and money on behavior, doctors, like everyone else, suffer from self-delusion. Most say they believe it affects the other guy, not them, and many become offended at the idea that they are “for sale.”

Trips to resorts and strip clubs will likely continue to diminish under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, but there are many other ways, often sneaky, that Pharma can entice doctors to prescribe its expensive, patent drugs.”

Physicians, just like everyone else, are subject to bias. I rarely come across a physician that’s been practicing for more than 10 years that relies on up to date scientific data and/or guidelines to drive their prescribing habits. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a physician say “because the drug rep told me” in response to my question regarding their use of a specific drug over another. That answer doesn’t instill confidence. 

Here are the 5 methods of influencing prescribing habits as listed in the article:

  1. Spying on Prescribing – “By selling the names, office addresses and practice types of almost every doctor in the US to marketing firms the AMA netted almost $50 million a year
  2. Continuing Medical Education Courses“…these classes are often “taught” for free by Pharma-funded specialists, sparing doctors from having to pay for them but providing the objectivity of a time-share presentation.
  3. Ghostwriting – “Being published in medical journals is essential to academic doctors but researching, writing and reworking papers is a formidable job. Luckily for doctors, Pharma is willing to help—as long as they write what Pharma wants.”
  4. Speakers Bureaus – “Few things combine the ego stroking and fast cash of being paid to speak—and Pharma has no trouble finding takers at $750, $1000 and more per pop.”
  5. Clinical Trials – “Pharma-funded clinical trials can be paydirt to doctors, yielding as much as $10,000 per patient in some cases.”