How Much Money Does Big Pharma Pay Doctors to Peddle Prescription Meds?

Jake Anderson
March 30, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) In 2013, drug and medical device corporations paid out a minimum of $3.5 billion in substantial payments to various doctors and hospitals. It’s money that large pharmaceutical companies deem necessary to get new medical devices and prescriptions into the hands of customers.

Records of these ongoing payments were sent to the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). A Sunshine Act provision regarding the Affordable Care Act authorized that those said companies disclose the documentation of the payments to try and make the device and drug industry’s somewhat guarded relationship with medical experts a bit more transparent overall.

When you consider the reasons why drug and device companies offer gifts and consulting payments to physicians, the primary goal is to obviously influence their prescribing methods. The interest of those corporations is to enhance their bottom line rather than focus on what’s best for the overall health of their patients. The key information is now available to the public using this searchable database.

Between Aug. 1st and Dec. 31st, 2013, more than 1,300 hospitals and over 500,000 doctors received financial compensation from drug and device manufacturers. Companies classified those payments in a variety of categories including entertainment, meals, travel, research grants, and consulting services.

What most people probably don’t realize is that these kinds of payments are widespread throughout the industry.

The questionable price for the payouts stirred up the fury of consumer advocacy groups and critics who claim these payments serve as incentives for hospitals and doctors to use or prescribe specific products and thus may potentially compromise the overall quality of patient care. Many advocates claim that it’s the only reason that these gifts are ever given.

Orthopedics Top Payouts

Several of the highest financial awards were given to orthopedic surgeons who consulted various medical device makers. Today, many of these companies are now facing lawsuits that were subsequently filed by patients who were injured unnecessarily by their products.

The government was cracking down on big drug and device manufacturers for controversial payments even before the Sunshine Act. The federal government forced large pharmaceutical corporations’ top players like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Eli Lily to report every gift they received to health care providers following their investigation for inappropriate marketing methods.

Many Physicians are Critical of the Database

While advocates claim that the database will strive to hold companies and doctors accountable along with providing helpful information to their patients, not everyone is on the same page that it’s 100 percent helpful. Forcing these payments to be out in the open puts physicians in the hot seat. Thus, many people are worried that patients will start to get the wrong idea overall.

The AMA (American Medical Association) claims that the information lacks perspective and therefore appealed to the feds to postpone making the data available to the public to allow doctors more time to fully review the reports.

Want to find out if your physician is getting kick backs from medical companies? Search the database here.

This article (How Much Money Does Big Pharma Pay Doctors to Peddle Prescription Meds?) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:

Since you’re here…

…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us