Consumer Alert: Is Your Doc Paid by Drug Companies to Prescribe Your Medication?

Medication error is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. A previous posting documented a recent study showing that about 25% of prescriptions written by physicians are for patients with conditions that are listed in bold print on the warning label on the drug package. In addition, drug companies are offering to pay physicians large sums of money to prescribe specific medications. Consumers must make their own safety a priority. They should always read the Physicians Desk Reference information for risks and contraindications on any drugs they are taking. They should also ask their physician if they or their institution have any financial interest in prescribing a specific drug before taking it.

As Doctors Write Prescriptions, Drug Companies Write Checks

Gardiner Harris, 27 June 2004

The check for $10,000 arrived in the mail unsolicited. The doctor who received it from the drug maker Schering-Plough said it was made out to him personally in exchange for an attached “consulting” agreement that required nothing other than his commitment to prescribe the company’s medicines. Two other physicians said in separate interviews that they, too, received checks unbidden from Schering-Plough, one of the world’s biggest drug companies.

“I threw mine away,” said the first doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concern about being drawn into a federal inquiry into the matter.

Those checks and others, some of them said to be for six-figure sums, are under investigation by federal prosecutors in Boston as part of a broad government crackdown on the drug industry’s marketing tactics. Just about every big global drug company — including Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth and Bristol-Myers Squibb — has disclosed in securities filings that it has received a federal subpoena, and most are juggling subpoenas stemming from several investigations…

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