Patt Morrison for January 30, 2012

Why is my doctor recommending this pill? The relationship between doctors and drug manufactures is about to become more transparent

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A pharmacist holds a bottle of Lipitor July 23, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Pfizer, the world's biggest drug maker and manufacturer of the cholesterol drug Lipitor, said its second quarter profit rose to $2.78 billion. Lipitor is the world's top-selling drug.

Have you ever wondered if your doctor recommended a particular drug because it’s the best product for your medical condition or because he or she has some relationship with the drug manufacturer?

According to the New York Times, doctors across the country have financial arrangements with drug and device manufacturers and can receive “hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in exchange for providing advice and giving lectures.” Can the relationship affect the recommendations the doctor provides the patient? The Times found that doctors who take cash payments are more likely to “prescribe drugs in risky and unapproved ways, such as prescribing powerful antipsychotic medicines for children.”

The Obama Administration, as part of the new health care law, is requiring drug companies to disclose how much money they give to doctors, and the drug companies could be subject to a $10,000 penalty for each payment they fail to report. If a company knowingly refuses to disclose a payment, it could be subject to a $100,000 fine. Both PhRMA and the Advanced Medical Technology Association support transparency, but have concerns about how the new requirements will be implemented and the effect it may have on innovation and improving care.

WEIGH IN:

If your doctor has a financial relationship with a drug or device manufacturer, will you want your doctor to explain what the relationship is and how it impacts patient care?

Guests:

Allan J. Coukell, pharmacist, consumer advocate, the Pew Charitable Trusts

Matthew D. Bennett, senior vice president, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Christopher L. White, general counsel, executive vice president, Advanced Medical Technology Association


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