High opioid prescribers receive larger payments from drugmakers, analysis finds

Modesto Morganelli
Marzo 13, 2018

America's opioid crisis worsens each year, but there might be more to it than meets the eye, particularly the factors behind opioid prescriptions and the doctors that give them out.

According to an analysis by CNN and researchers from Harvard University, it appears manufacturers of opioids are paying physicians a great deal of money for prescribing opioids. Some doctors received more than $25,000 from 2014 to 2015. "It's cementing the idea for these physicians that prescribing this many opioids is creating value". It raises ethical and legal concerns as the country's opioid epidemic shows no sign of calming down. Almost half of the 811,000 doctors who gave Medicare patient prescriptions wrote at least one for opioids. Over 200,000 of those doctors received payouts from opioid manufacturers - representing about 54 percent of the pool.

What's not clear is if bigger payouts lead to more prescriptions, or vice versa. Dr. Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that he is not sure if money is engendering recommendation or the recommendation accelerated the money but whatever the case might be, its possibly a risky cycle. From 1999 to 2015, over 183,000 lives have been claimed by this epidemic. Analysis revealed physicians who prescribed high levels of opioids were more likely to receive larger payments from drug companies.

Researchers found that one medic was paid over $200,000 over three years by a company that produces a highly potent opioid - fentanyl.

The founder of the company that makes that painkiller, extremely rich person John Kapoor, was charged in government court last October for purportedly trading influences and kickbacks as an end-result of expanded medicines from doctors. That study, in light of a survey of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services database from August 2013 to December 2015, found that 375,266 opioid- related installments were made to 68,177 doctors, totaling more than $46 million.

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