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Comment & Response
October 2016

Payments to Physicians, Prescribing Rates, and More Appropriate Conclusions

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1576-1577. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5799

To the Editor The evidence in the study in a recent issue of JAMA Internal Medicine by Yeh et al1 does not establish the conclusion about the association between industry payments to physicians and the prescribing of brand-name statins. Atorvastatin (Lipitor; Pfizer) was the main brand name drug in the 2011 database used for the study. Pfizer’s patent on atorvastatin expired at the end of November 2011.2 The data appears to have a huge gap with Lipitor at 286 630 claims compared with only 242 generic atorvastatin claims.1 This creates the impression that most clinicians would choose the brand name drug over the generic equivalent. However, generic atorvastatin was available for just 1 month. Following patent expiration, Lipitor was actually cheaper during 2011 than its generic equivalent.2

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