Increased marketing of opioid drugs to doctors is associated with higher opioid prescribing rates and higher rates of overdose deaths, according to a new study.
Researchers found that counties where opioid makers offered doctors more meals, trips and consulting fees had higher overdose deaths involving prescription opioids, compared with counties where such marketing tactics were less aggressive, The New York Times reports.
The drug industry spent about $40 million to promote opioid medications to almost 68,000 physicians from 2013 through 2015, the study found.
“We already know that one in 12 U.S. physicians received marketing for opioids, and this proportion was even higher for family physicians, among whom one in five received opioid marketing,” lead author Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, addiction researcher at Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction, said in a news release. “Our findings suggest that direct-to-physician opioid marketing may run counter to national efforts to reduce overdose deaths, and that policymakers should consider limits on marketing as part of a robust, evidence-based response to the U.S. overdose crisis.”
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