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New York doctors wrote more opioid prescriptions after pharma payments

New York doctors who received payments from pharmaceutical companies that make opioids were more likely to prescribe ...

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 3:44 PM
Updated: Jun 14, 2018 3:44 PM

New York doctors who received payments from pharmaceutical companies that make opioids were more likely to prescribe the drugs to their patients, according to a new report from the New York State Health Foundation.

The findings -- similar to the results of a national investigation done by CNN in March -- increase concern that money from pharmaceutical companies influences doctors' prescribing habits.

"It's a systemic issue that is troubling and needs to be addressed," said David Sandman, chief executive of the New York State Health Foundation, which issued the report. "It's financial relationships that really raise eyebrows."

Doctors' groups have denied that payments from pharmaceutical companies -- which are legal -- influence their prescribing habits.

The study -found that-between 2013 and 2015, about 3,400 New York doctors received more than $3.5 million in payments -related to opioids from pharmaceutical companies.

Those payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors include fees for speaking and consulting, as well as money for travel and meals. Pharmaceutical companies are required to report these payments to the federal government.

About nine out of 10 New York doctors who prescribed opioids received no opioid-related payments from pharmaceutical companies.

The doctors who did get payments were particularly high opioid prescribers.

The study authors-determined-that on average, for-every $1 a New York doctor received in opioid-related payments -from pharmaceutical companies, the doctor prescribed an additional- $10 -or more in opioids-to Medicare patients.

The study found that 33 New York doctors were particularly high earners, receiving more than $10,000 in opioid-related payments from pharmaceutical companies from August of 2013 through December of 2015. Those high earners were also high prescribers: On average, they wrote $1.2 million in opioid prescriptions during that time period.

In contrast, those who didn't make much money from pharmaceutical companies wrote relatively fewer prescriptions. There were 529 doctors who received less than $20 from opioid manufacturers during the time period, and they prescribed on average only about $34,000 worth of the drugs, according to the report.

The CNN investigation in March reported that in 2014 and 2015, more than 200,000 doctors nationwide who wrote opioid prescriptions also received payments from companies making opioids. The opioid manufacturers' payments exceeded six-figure sums for hundreds of doctors, and thousands nationwide received more than $25,000.

CNN's data analysis, done in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University, determined the quantity of opioid prescriptions by doctors and the amount of money they received were closely linked, with the likelihood of getting paid more steadily rising for higher prescribers.

"Our work very much supports and confirms the work that CNN did," the New York State Health Foundation's Sandman said. "We also tried to branch off in some new directions as well in our report."

The New York report looked at the timing of payments and prescribing. -It found that a doctor who received opioid-related payments had larger increases in-his or her opioid prescribing the next year compared to doctors who had not received such payments.

"You start to see a big spike," Sandman said.

He added that-given the severity of the opioid crisis, it's reasonable to consider banning such payments by pharmaceutical companies.

Doctors' groups, however, have pointed out that reports like this one don't find a definite causal relationship between payments and prescriptions.

Dr. Thomas Madejski, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, said that doctors who put profit above patients should be punished.

"Any physician that chooses to prescribe any medication for reasons other than patient need faces threat of significant sanction ... as well as potentially criminal and civil penalties," Madejski said in a statement to CNN.

He went on to question the validity of the New York State Health Foundation report.

"To make an assertion that New York physicians are prescribing opioids because of payments from drug companies is completely at odds with recent statistics showing a significant decrease in opioid prescribing in New York," Madejski said.

But the authors of the report say Madejski's analysis is wrong.

While opioid prescribing has been decreasing, doctors are still receiving payments from pharmaceutical companies, and when doctors get those payments, their opioid prescribing increases, said Mark Zezza, director of policy and research for the New York State Health Foundation.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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