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big pharma’s biggest bribe to doctors is big meals


Medical Symbol Rama and Eliot Lash

“…the American pharmaceutical industry employed 102,000 sales reps, making constant visits to the country’s approximately 661,400 doctors.  Drug companies deny that they are paying bribes to doctors for recommending their products and boosting their sales. They see their paid relationships with health care providers as beneficial to medicine and the public good.  Yet two observations seem to refute both notions:  First, drug companies would not be so generous if their investments in giveaways did not net enormous returns. Pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $20 billion a year on marketing to physicians, while prescription drug sales top $300 billion.  And second, several studies determined that doctors, like all human beings, are subject to the natural tendency to want to give something back to a gift-giver, in a dynamic psychologists call reciprocity.”Cherry-picked from the January 18th, 2012 issue of DrugWatch (How Big Pharma Influences Doctors)

“Drug and medical device manufacturers routinely pay doctors and hospitals in the form of meals, travel reimbursements, gifts, entertainment, compensation for speaking engagements, and more.  According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, more than $27 billion was spent on marketing to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry in the year 2012.  In terms of direct payments, the initial batch of data released by Open Payments covered only the last 5 months of 2013, in which $3.43 billion was received by physicians and hospitals. New information covering the full 2014 calendar year was published on June 30, 2015, revealing that U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals received a total of $6.49 billion from drug and medical-device makers.”  From Chloe Della Costa’s July 7, 2015 article (Is Your Doctor Taking Bribes From Drug Companies?) in The CheatSheet

A good friend of mine who works at an unnamed Cancer Treatment Center told me that pharmaceutical companies have this clinic “covered” every single day of the week as far as meals are concerned.  In fact, providing meals to doctors and their staff is the number one way that BIG PHARMA bribes the medical community.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this new study from one of the American Medical Association’s numerous journals (JAMA Internal Medicine).

Just last week they published a study called Pharmaceutical Industry–Sponsored Meals and Physician Prescribing Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries.  It’s stated purpose was to, “study the association between physicians’ receipt of industry-sponsored meals, which account for roughly 80% of the total number of industry payments, and rates of prescribing the promoted drug to Medicare beneficiaries.”  Although there are other methods regularly employed by the pharmaceutical industry (vacations disguised as CME, speaking fees, gadgets / electronics, tickets to sporting events or Justin Beaver concerts, ‘consulting’ fees, clothing, travel, etc, etc, etc), a whopping four fifths of all medical bribes come in the form of food.  After all, everyone likes to eat, and for most people (BUT CERTAINLY NOT ALL), it’s something we do multiple times a day.

The researchers looked specifically at the relationship between the number and quality of meals provided by industry, and the resulting prescription habits for four very specific and popular classes of drugs — STATINS, ANTI-DEPRESSANTS, BETA BLOCKERS, and ACE INHIBITORS.  What did they learn?  Big Pharma realized decades ago that when they satisfy doctor’s rumbly in their tumbly, it always leads to money.  Check out these cherry-picked results showing how specific name-brand drugs are always prescribed at greater rates when food is involved.

“Physicians who received a single meal promoting the drug of interest had higher rates of prescribing rosuvastatin over other statins, nebivolol over other Beta-blockers, olmesartan over other ACE inhibitors and ARBs, and desvenlafaxine over other SSRIs. Receipt of additional meals and receipt of meals costing more than $20 were associated with higher relative prescribing rates.Furthermore, the relationship was dose dependent, with additional meals and costlier meals associated with greater increases in prescribing of the promoted drug.  Receipt of industry-sponsored meals was associated with an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication that was being promoted.  Industry-sponsored meals have been associated with learning inaccurate information about the sponsor’s and competitor’s drug and with increased cost of prescribing.”

Look folks; this is no different than what is currently (and rampantly) going on in politics.  Politicians. both rep and dem) sell influence and access to the highest bidder(s) via absurd speaking fees and contributions to their political PAC’s or Foundations.  This is why you can never trust a politician to do what’s best for the people, but why you can always trust your DOCTOR TO “FIGURE OUT” WHAT DRUG THEY ARE GOING TO GIVE YOU (or HERE).  But then again, if you are one of those people relying on the medical community to keep you healthy, you should realize that MONEY is the very nature of EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.  Why not take a few minutes and learn how to take charge of your own health (HERE).


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