A study in the United States has found that physicians who received industry-sponsored meals tend to prescribe the brand-name medication that was being promoted.
The study used industry payment data and Medicare prescribing records from 2013 which recently became publicly available in the United States. The most-prescribed brand-name medications in 4 drug classes are: rosuvastatin (statins), nebivolol (cardioselective β-blockers), olmesartan (ACE inhibitor and ARBs), and desvenlafaxine (SSRIs and SNRIs).
A total of 279,669 physicians received 63,524 payments associated with the 4 target drugs. Physicians who received a single meal promoting the drug of interest had higher rates of prescribing rosuvastatin over other statins, nebivolol over other β-blockers, olmesartan over other ACE inhibitors and ARBs, and desvenlafaxine over other SSRIs and SNRIs.
95% of payments received by the physicians were meals, with a mean value of less than $20. Receipt of additional meals and meals costing more than $20 were associated with higher relative prescribing rates. However, it is important to note that the findings represent an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
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