Doctors Accepting Drug Company Perks More Likely to Prescribe Opioids: Study

Doctors who accept opioid-related marketing payments are more likely to prescribe opioids, according to a new study. The payments cover meals, consulting and speaking fees, and travel expenses.

Researchers at Boston Medical Center reviewed a federal database and found about 369,000 doctors had prescribed opioids to Medicare recipients in 2015. Of these doctors, 7 percent had accepted more than 105,000 opioid-related marketing payments the year before. On average, opioid prescription rates among doctors who received these payments rose by about 9 percent in the following year.

The total value of the payments was more than $9 million. About half of the payments were from INSYS Therapeutics, which makes the opioid spray medication Subsys, HealthDay reports. The drug, which contains fentanyl, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cancer pain.

The findings are published in JAMA Internal Medicine.