"As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty."
You may recall that Harris reported on this payola issue in an earlier article, focusing on the state of Minnesota. The story discussed the payments from drug companies to doctors – the results indicated that drug companies paid Minnesota psychiatrists large amounts of money to stump for their products. I added my commentary as well as a description of how this process is important in creating “key opinion leaders” who serve as both physicians and talking advertisements for drugs.
This time, Harris wrote about Vermont, and the results are unsurprising. In the Green Mountain State, Vermont officials reported that
…drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year, to an average of $45,692 each from $20,835 in 2005 (see update below). Antipsychotic medicines are among the largest expenses for the state’s Medicaid program.
Later in the story, Harris writes that
Officials in Maine and Vermont said they would try to compare reports of payments to doctors with Medicaid records to explore how marketing practices might influence prescribing in ways that increased costs to taxpayers.
Well, when the analyses that are pending in Maine and Vermont were run in Minnesota, they found what appears to be a strong relationship between receipt of drug company money and prescription rates of atypical antipsychotics to kids.
The Vermont report appears to not have provided as much information as the Minnesota report, but the similarities are notable. The article also reported that several states are considering similar legislation that would require disclosure of drug company payments to doctors. The big question is how much money drug companies will invest in sinking such legislation.
Thanks to Gardiner Harris and the New York Times for the reporting. Keep it up.
Hat Tip: Mind Hacks