Online Tool Exposes Physicians’ Payments From Drug Makers
Ever wonder if your doctor has taken payments from pharmaceutical companies? The Dollars for Docs database is a new online tool that allows anyone to search for physicians and find how much money they have been paid by medical device and Big Pharma drug makers.
The data includes payments from August 2013-December 2015, reflecting a total of more than $6 billion given to more than 800,000 doctors. The information was made accessible through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA), a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.)
Payments made to doctors by companies may include everything from compensation for speaking at conferences, complimentary meals, and royalty payments. Research has revealed a link between meals provided by these companies and an increased likelihood that a doctor will prescribe the promoted brand-name drug rather than less expensive alternatives.
The data does not, however, include payments taken by physician assistants or nurse practitioners, nor does it contain money associated with a physician’s own company or income from research.
To use the database, simply enter the name of a physician and narrow the result by state. When a doctor is found, you can then see how many payments received by the physician, the total amount received, and the number of companies that made payments. Data also includes the category of payment such as “Education” and the medical device or drug associated with the payment.
The data reveals that overall, 1 in 12 doctors has taken payments associated with opioids from drug companies. If you find your physician is taking money from a company that makes your drug, you should ask if there are less expensive alternatives or alternatives that have fewer side effects. In other words, determine if this drug is right for you, or if your doctor is being influenced by drug companies.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology