Doctors have been paid billions of dollars by drug companies and medical device manufacturers to prescribe drugs and use their products. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and other news sources reported in early July that doctors received $6.49 billion dollars from drug companies and medical device manufacturers in 2014 to prescribe their drugs and products.
Due to the Affordable Care Act, data is assessable to the public in a provision mandating that all payments from any company to a doctor be public record.
Data shows that 607,000 doctors and 1,121 hospitals received payments in 2014. The payments infer a conflict of interest, and a bias by the doctor to prescribe the drugs and medical devices from the paying companies.
“If we have a financial incentive to believe something or conclude something, we kind of trick ourselves into thinking it’s true. And we are not always aware that we are doing it…….No pharma companies spend this kind of money in a disinterested way,” said Professor Jason Dana of the Yale School of Management.
Though much of the money goes to fund research, other pharmaceutical industry critics agree with Dana. Dr. Marcia Angell implied that medical experts were paid by drug companies to influence and change national health guidelines to use their drugs.
“Kickbacks” to physicians paid by the drug and medical industry has been under investigation after becoming an epidemic in years past. The Department of Justice investigated three major manufacturers of hip replacements in 2007. The device was reported to be defective, and the manufacturers were aware of this. The three companies paid $800 million to consulting doctors over four years. The companies agreed to reveal details about the payments after the investigation.
Due to the Affordable Care Act’s provision for transparency for payment from drug companies to doctors and hospitals, the public’s trust that products are not being prescribed due to pressure from drug companies can be insured.