Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Merchants of Death

This study by authors including my colleague Brandon Marshall nails them. For those of you who don't know, pharmaceutical companies promote their products by giving physicians free meals, paying for their travel to conferences, giving them speaking fees and honoraria, consulting fees, and otherwise crossing the palm with silver. They do this because it works -- it is associated with increased prescribing of their products.

It turns out the more payments they made in a U.S. county to promote opioid prescribing, the more prescriptions were written, and in turn, the more overdose deaths there were. The strongest association was with the number of physicians receiving payments, rather than the total value of the payments. In other words, it doesn't take a lot of vigorish to get results.

Purdue pharmaceutical is being sued for misrepresenting the risk of its product oxycodone, but all of this marketing is inappropriate and should be banned. Physicians should base their prescribing decisions on the scientific literature and consensus guidelines, not on who buys them a fancy dinner. The drug companies are killing people to satiate their greed.

1 comment:

John Bachtell said...

Who's not with you on this? I don't like any of it.

And let's not leave out advertising prescription medications to the public who, in turn, put pressure on their doctors.

I think the lawsuit about misrepresenting the dangers known at that time is a separate issue. Let the process go forward and, as you say, decide by the evidence discovered. Accusation at this point is all it is.