In Reply In response to our study,1 Dr Cohen, CEO of a biopharmaceutical company, argues that “no entity is better equipped to educate physicians about a particular treatment option than the company that developed it.” Where Cohen finds reassurance, we find cause for concern.
We found that the receipt of a single pharmaceutical industry–sponsored meal with an average value under $20 was robustly associated with physicians prescribing the promoted drug to Medicare patients. The promoted brand-name drugs we examined were all off-formulary at the US Department of Veterans Affairs as cheaper and similarly effective alternatives are available. Yet, these brand-name drugs cost Medicare billions of dollars in 2013.1 Similarly strong associations between industry gifts, payments, and physician prescribing have been found in other recent studies.2- 4
DeJong C, Tseng C, Dudley RA. Important Distinctions Concerning Pharmaceutical Company–Sponsored Meals and Prescribing Patterns—Reply. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1881. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.7157