For Doctors, More Opioid Prescriptions Mean Bigger Payouts, Says Harvard Analysis

Henrietta Strickland
March 13, 2018

According to CNN, a team of Harvard researchers found that drug companies gave US doctors millions of dollars to recommend the drugs, counsel, and talk about opioids. Kolodny, who is also the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing said that it can be compared to the doctor's receiving money through illegal means to sell narcotics, and that is really concerning. "It's cementing the idea for these physicians that prescribing this many opioids is creating value". Some doctors received more than $25,000 from 2014 to 2015. It raises ethical and legal concerns as the country's opioid epidemic shows no sign of calming down. The figures are astonishing, but so are the payouts doctors receive by prescribing more opioids.

Doctors who recommended especially large measures of the medications were the well on the way to get paid.

Over a two- year time frame from 2014 to 2015, nearly 50% of the 811,000 doctors who composed remedies to Medicare patients composed no less than one medicine for opioids, CNN said. Physicians whose opioid prescribing habits ranked among the top 1 percent nationwide received, on average, about four times as much money as a typical physician.

"I don't know if the money is causing the prescribing or the prescribing led to the money, but in either case, it's potentially a vicious cycle", said Michael Barnett, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, who contributed to the analysis. From 1999 to 2015, in excess of 183,000 died. One such doctor even received an astounding $200,000 over three years from a manufacturer of a fentanyl drug, despite it having destroyed one of their patients' lives.

John Kapoor, the founder of the company that makes that drug, was summoned to federal court in October 2017 for reportedly bribing doctors for increasing their prescriptions for opioid. That study, in light of a survey of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database from August 2013 to December 2015, found that 375,266 opioid- related installments were made to 68,177 doctors, totaling more than $46 million.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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