The U.S. government may soon require drug companies to report any payments they make to doctors for speaking, consulting, research, travel and/or entertainment amid fears the payments may affect how some doctors diagnose their patients.
According to The New York Times, researchers have found evidence that the payments a doctor accepts from a drug company may influence the treatment decisions they make for their patients. They also found that these biased decisions by health professionals could lead to patients paying more if they are encouraged to use more expensive medical devices and drugs than they actually need for treatment.
Analysis done by The Times has found that close to 66 percent of doctors accept routine gifts of food and about 25 percent accept cash payments. The review found that these types of payments often caused doctors to practice medicine differently than those who did not accept any payments. Doctors who take payments are also more willing to prescribe unapproved or risky medications, reported The Times.
The newly proposed standard by the government would force a company to disclose all payments it makes to doctors if it has one or more products covered by Medicaid or Medicare. The information would be made available to the public on a website.
Patients want to know they are getting treatment based on medical evidence, not a lunch or a financial relationship, said Allan J. Coukell, a pharmacist and consumer advocate at the Pew Charitable Trusts, according to The Times. They want to know if their doctor has a financial relationship with a pharmaceutical company, but they are often uncomfortable asking the doctor directly.
If you or a loved one has not been treated effectively by a doctor, contact Sokolove Law for a free legal consultation and to learn about potentially pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.