Three-fourths of physicians report financial ties to drug, device companies

Nearly three-quarters, or 72 percent, of physicians have a financial tie to a drug, device or related company, according to a survey from The Dartmouth Institute.

For the survey, physician-researchers Lisa Schwartz, MD, and Steven Woloshin, MD, asked 1,500 internists and internal medicine specialists yes-or-no questions related to financial ties with medical companies. Some of the incentives included food inside or outside the workplace, free drug samples, pens, notepads, payment for consulting services, payment for sitting on advisory boards, and free tickets to events.

Drug samples represented the most commonly received benefit, with 55 percent of physicians reporting receiving them. Forty-eight percent reported food and beverage benefits in the workplace, while 30 percent reported the same benefit outside the workplace. Only 8 percent of physicians said they got small gifts from companies, 4 percent said they received consulting and 3 percent said they were compensated for sitting on a board.

"What the survey revealed is that while financial industry ties have fallen some over the past decade, a majority of doctors still reported them," Dr. Schwartz said. "This is particularly concerning when you consider that free samples, which are among the most common financial tie reported, have been linked to the prescribing of high-cost brand-name drugs over lower-cost generic alternatives."

For the full study, click here.

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