1 in 12 physicians accepted payment from prescription opioid manufacturers: 4 things to know

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One in twelve physicians accepted payment from drug manufactures selling prescription opioid painkillers, according federal records cited by STAT.

The average payment physicians received was approximately $15. However, a deeper analysis of those records revealed that of the more than 375,000 payments, the top 1 percent of 68,000 physicians received a total of $38 million, according to the report. The top physician prescribers received approximately $2,600 per year, on average.

Here are four additional insights into the relationship between physicians and prescription opioid manufacturers.

1. The majority of payments by prescription opioid manufactures were made to anesthesiologists, who collectively received more than $11.2 million between August 2013 and December 2015, according to an Aug. 8 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

2. Researchers also discovered physicians who specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation received $7.5 million during the same period, followed by pain specialists ($6.9 million), internists ($4.5 million) and family practitioners ($3.2 million).

3. The alleged correlation between prescription opioid prescribers and drug manufacturers led to the creation of OpenPaymentsData, a federal database where drugmakers must report physician payments, STAT reports.

4. In addition, the CDC issued guidelines recommending opioids be prescribed only after other therapies failed, and to issue the smallest doses possible.

"It's difficult to know what an individual physician is prescribing, but this demonstrates how widespread these payments are," said Scott Hadland, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "Amid an opioid overdose crisis in this country, we should take a look and think about whether these are appropriate numbers."

 

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