Drugs and technology What's Buzzing

Doctors influenced by drug company money

Written by Diane Archer

Behavioral psychologists will tell you that none of us are immune from influence both explicit and subtle. Notwithstanding, we’d like to believe that we are free agents. A recent Pro Publica analysis finds evidence to suggest that doctors are influenced by drug company money and gifts.

Not surprisingly, the drug and device companies spend billions on doctors and hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a database that tracks these dollars by doctor and hospital. In 2014 alone, CMS data reveals that drug and medical device companies spent $6.5 billion on doctors and hospitals.

Pro Publica found that doctors who take money or gifts from the drug and medical device companies tend to prescribe more brand-name drugs than those who do not–two to three times more.  Pro Publica further found that the more money the doctors take, the more brand-name prescription drugs they prescribe, notwithstanding the availability of lower-cost generic alternatives.

For example, internists who do not take drug or device money prescribe brand-name prescription drugs 20 percent of the time. Internists who take $5,000 or more prescribe brand-name drugs 30 percent of the time–50 percent more often!

Pro Publica could not show that doctors who took money from a particular company prescribed more of that company’s drugs.

Here’s more from Just Care on drug companies and prescription drugs:



  • It’s supposed to be illegal but when you see drug sales reps carrying sacks of catered food and bags of “samples” it is hard to believe that doctors aren’t favoring those companies. I’ve had doctors who always prescribed generics and doctors who nearly always prescribed brand name meds. You seldom see a sales rep at a doctors office who prefers generics. I’d rather save the money and pay for a generic than get a “free sample” and pay a much higher price.

  • This is really scary, since the newest drugs are often not thoroughly tested and can have serious unknown side effects, in addition to being very expensive.

  • The causes are not clear, but men account for more than 90 percent of the 300 doctors who received the most money from drug and medical device companies, according to new federal data.

Leave a Comment

Read previous post:
New White House report recommends ways to help older people remain independent

A March 2016 report by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, PCAST, recommends ways to help older adults...