“More than 28,000 Illinois doctors accepted $74.1 million from pharmaceutical and medical device companies in 2016, excluding payments for research, according to a Tribune analysis of recently released federal data. Those payments were for travel, meals, consulting, speaking fees and royalties, among other things,” The Chicago Tribune reports.
* “In Illinois, the largest chunk of money received by doctors from industry — about 28 percent of payments excluding research, or $21.4 million — were for services such as serving as a speaker or faculty at a noncontinuing education event. Another 18 percent, $13.4 million, went toward consulting fees. Nearly 13 percent of the payments, about $9.5 million, were for food and drink, according to a federal analysis.”
* “A number of studies over the years have shown that certain financial relationships can drive doctors to favor particular products when choosing medications for patients.”
* “Drug reps do not see physicians unless they are affecting their prescribing, and pharmaceutical companies do not pay physicians unless they are affecting their prescribing,” said Adriane Fugh-Berman, director of PharmedOut at Georgetown University Medical Center, a research and education project examining industry’s effects on prescribing behavior.”
* “Many doctors also say the payments can help drive innovation and learning. Topping the list of Illinois doctors receiving general payments last year was Dr. Anthony Romeo, head of the section for shoulder and elbow surgery at Rush University Medical Center and a team physician for the White Sox. Romeo received $1.75 million in general payments. But the vast majority of that money was from royalties and licensing.”
DFPI ADDS: This is where nuance and context is important. This isn’t a black or white issue; it is important to parse out the many shades of gray. Without a doubt, there are certain contexts where industry funding and interference is highly problematic and needs to be addressed.
“Any doctor who’s seeing drug reps or being paid by any companies is going to have less accurate information about drugs in general than physicians who don’t,” Fugh-Berman said. “Drug reps are trained to deliver messages in a way that advantages their products.”