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Wary of their influence over physician prescribing practices, some medical organizations are limiting their contact with pharmaceutical sales representatives, the Miami Herald reported in September.
The pharmaceutical industry last year spent more than $16 billion persuading doctors to prescribe their products. Nearly $10.5 billion went for free samples of many drugs that also were widely advertised to consumers.
Because drug promotions can influence a doctor’s prescribing habits, health care managers are hoping that restricting contact with marketers will prompt more physicians to prescribe cheaper generic drugs that are therapeutically equivalent to brand name medications.
This alone could dramatically cut prescription drug spending, which is projected to reach $161 billion this year. Drug spending, which jumped an estimated 16 percent in 2001 and is projected to grow 13.5% this year, is one of the major factors behind the nation’s spiraling health care costs, according to data collected by the National Institute for Health Care Management, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research and educational foundation.
Among the efforts cited by the Herald:
Physicians Access, a Cincinnati medical practice, began charging drug companies $65 for a 10-minute meeting with its doctors last year. And Time Concepts, a northern Kentucky firm, has signed up 800 physicians nationwide who’ve agreed to charge drug companies $50 for the same 10-minute meeting. The encounters were previously free.
States also are joining in. In June, Vermont passed a law requiring drug reps to report to the state all gifts to physicians worth more than $25. Lawmakers in New York have proposed a $75 limit.