Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Southern Hospital-ity: #Pharma "Food, Friendship, & Flattery" Welcome!

Southern Hospital-ity: #Pharma "Food, Friendship, & Flattery" Welcome! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

 A higher percentage of doctors affiliated with hospitals in the South have received such payments than doctors in other regions of the country, ProPublica analysis shows. And a greater share of doctors at for-profit hospitals have taken them than at nonprofit and government facilities.


As might be expected, hospitals with tougher rules, such as banning industry reps from walking their halls and bringing lunch, tended to have lower payments rates. For example, at Kaiser Permanente, a giant California-based health insurer that runs 38 hospitals, fewer than 3 in 10 doctors took a payment in 2014. Since 2004, the system has banned staff from taking anything of value from a vendor.


"Our intent was to disrupt the strategy of using what industry calls 'food, friendship and flattery' to develop relationships with prescribers and influence the choice of drugs, the choice of devices, implants, things like that," said Dr. Sharon Levine, an executive vice president of the Permanente Federation, which represents the doctor arm of Kaiser Permanente. "Passing a policy alone doesn't make anything happen. There's a fair amount of surround-sound in the organization around reminding people about this and reminding them why we took this step."


ProPublica's analysis found distinct regional differences in comparing where industry payments were most concentrated.


After New Jersey, the states with the highest rates of hospital-affiliated doctors taking payments were all in the South: Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama had rates above 76 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont had the lowest rate of industry interactions (19 percent), followed by Minnesota (30 percent). Maine, Wisconsin and Massachusetts had rates below 46 percent. Some of these states had laws requiring public disclosure of payments to doctors that predated the federal government's.


There were also major differences between hospitals based upon who owned them. For-profit hospitals had the highest rate of payments to doctors, 75 percent, followed by nonprofit hospitals at 66 percent. Federally owned hospitals had the lowest rates at 29 percent, followed by other government hospitals at 61 percent. Hospitals operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs weren't included in our analysis.


ProPublica found differences in the payment rates at teaching hospitals based on the grades assigned to them by the American Medical Student Association, which reviewed their conflict-of-interest policies in 2014.


At the A hospitals we analyzed, 46 percent of doctors took a payment, compared to 48 percent at B hospitals, 58 percent at C hospitals and 63 percent at hospitals rated as incomplete because their policies were "insufficient for evaluation." By comparison, 69 percent of doctors at unrated hospitals took payments. Of the 204 hospitals graded, about 150 were in ProPublica's data (hospitals run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were not).


"I think that's significant," said Thibert, the group's president. "That's still a lot of docs receiving money unfortunately. That's something we're continuing to work on."

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Can Pro Publica's Dollars for Docs database help patients find a "good" doctor?

Here are my slides for my #MedX keynote on Sept. 6, 2014. These may change before delivery.
Pharma Guy's insight:

Some of the docs in Pro Publica's database may very well be highly-qaulified physicians, which is NOT what this presentation is about. It's more about perhaps finding docs with high ethical standards, which may or may not be of use to patients needing expert opinion.

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More Than 90% of Doctors in Some States Take Money From #Pharma, Device Companies

More Than 90% of Doctors in Some States Take Money From #Pharma, Device Companies | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

A ProPublica analysis has found for the first time that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed tend to prescribe drugs differently than their colleagues who don’t. And the more money they receive, on average, the more brand-name medications they prescribe.



Nationally, about three quarters of doctors across five common medical specialties received at least one payment from a company in 2014. In Nevada, that number was over 90 percent. In Vermont, it was less than 24 percent.


Note: The five specialties are family medicine, internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, psychiatry and ophthalmology.



We matched records on payments from pharmaceutical and medical device makers in 2014 with corresponding data on doctors’ medication choices in Medicare’s prescription drug program. (You can read our methodology here.)


Doctors who got money from drug and device makers—even just a meal– prescribed a higher percentage of brand-name drugs overall than doctors who didn’t, our analysis showed. Indeed, doctors who received industry payments were two to three times as likely to prescribe brand-name drugs at exceptionally high rates as others in their specialty.


Doctors who received more than $5,000 from companies in 2014 typically had the highest brand-name prescribing percentages. Among internists who received no payments, for example, the average brand-name prescribing rate was about 20 percent, compared to about 30 percent for those who received more than $5,000.


ProPublica’s analysis doesn’t prove industry payments sway doctors to prescribe particular drugs, or even a particular company’s drugs. Rather, it shows that payments are associated with an approach to prescribing that, writ large, benefits drug companies’ bottom line.



Pharma Guy's insight:

For more data from this analysis, See "Docs Who Get #Pharma Money are More Likely to Prescribe Sponsors' Brand Name Drugs"; 

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