We’ve talked about doctors receiving honoraria and other payments from drug companies to influence their choice of treatments. Always quite righteously physician groups have responded to such allegations with drivel about their professionalism and their over riding concern for their patients. That works up to a point but in our culture money talks.
As little as one free meal from a drug company can influence which medicines doctors prescribe for Medicare patients, according to a study using Medicare records and recently released data from the health care law’s Open Payments program.
Medicynical Note: For the almost 50 years that I’ve been a physician drug companies have vied for face time with physicians. Some of it is fairly legitimate education on new better drugs but most is simply a sales pitch to get the doc to change his/her prescribing habits, almost always with limited benefit and increased cost. Various incentives are provided to get this access–cash payments, meals, faux jobs, deals on medications given directly to patients. It all works and it all costs the system integrity and cash.
But hey that’s the way America works. Check out the gun lobby and the recent assault weapons votes. Money buys access and influence. Doctors are not immune.