Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are Also Swayed by Gifts from Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physicians who were given meals, fees, grants, and other goodies by drug makers were much more likely to prescribe a larger number of medicines for each patient than health care providers who did not receive such payments, according to a new study. And often, the prescriptions were written for more-expensive, brand-name drugs.


The study examined $3.9 million in gifts and payments made to more than 1,100 Medicare Part D prescribers in Washington, D.C., in 2013, and found those health care providers prescribed 2.3 more claims per patient than providers who did not receive anything from drug companies. What’s more, the prescriptions cost $50 more per claim, and this trend was seen among six specialties in particular.


Indeed, several other studies have explored the extent to which financial ties between drug makers and doctors influence prescribing. But this latest study, which was published in PLOS One, is the first to examine prescribing trends among physician assistants and nurse practitioners in response to industry largesse, as well as all prescriptions written for Medicare recipients during a specific place and time.


Fugh-Berman noted nurse practitioners and physician assistants play an increasingly important role in health care because they are writing more prescriptions than ever before. The study noted this number has more than doubled over the past five years. And in 2015, these health care providers wrote 676 million, or 15.4 percent, of the 4.4 billion prescriptions in the U.S. It is worth noting that drug makers are required to report payments made to physicians, but not nurse practitioners or physician assistants, to the federal OpenPayments database.


Among nurse practitioners, gifts and payments were associated with a significant increase in the average cost of Medicare Part D claims — $180 versus $86. Among physician assistants, there was also a significant increase in the average cost of such claims — $213 versus $63. And gifts to physician assistants were also associated with a significantly higher portion of branded drugs – 30 percent versus 17 percent.


Further Reading:

  • “Senate Bill Would Bring Sunshine to #Pharma Payments to Nurses & Physician Assistants”;