In 2011, some drug companies released information about the payments they were providing doctors for their services. These companies have reportedly spent about $761 million in disclosed payments to doctors – representing only about 40% of the U.S. prescription drug sales, with hundreds of other companies who have not and will not disclose their information.
Whether the payment comes in monetary fashion such as cash or a check, or it’s meals out and educational items to speak and consult about for the companies, doctors are forming complex relationships with drug companies that many believe tread a fine line.
Since 2010, ProPublica reporters, Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, have been investigating these relationships and how the pharmaceutical companies are having an unfortunate impact on the world of medicine. Drug companies need the doctors to conduct research and clinical trials for them, and they need the physicians to give promotional talks on their behalf and for others to see that they stand behind the drugs. This image is what pharmaceutical companies need and what they will pay high dollar for. This is cause for concern because many doctors can turn a blind eye and violate many federal laws by promoting and prescribing dangerous medications. Doctors have the power to legally prescribe drugs for any reason they want, whether it is approved by the FDA or not. The pharmaceutical companies use this to their advantage as much as they can leading to dangerously compromising situations for patients who don’t know who to trust.
Although Federal law prohibits companies rewarding doctors who prescribe their products, this happens more often than not in other forms of payment. Doctors must also follow the same rules as the companies and cannot promote the product for uses not authorized by the FDA. With these regulations in place, it is shocking to see how many undisclosed payments occur.
Patients should feel comfortable protecting themselves. With so many pharmaceutical companies out there, countless pills on the market, and very able and willing doctors who have no problem ‘promoting’ the drugs, patients should be careful of any prescription drug they are given. Side effects are always there, whether minimal or life altering, and every person reacts differently.
Lately, in the world of pharmaceuticals, many have come to forget that.