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Big pharma spends $84m a year on gifts for doctors in just one city

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The cosy relationship between doctors and the drugs industry has been exposed in a new study of a city in the US. In just one year, $84m was spent ‘marketing’ to physicians in the city, which included $19m spent on gifts, and in return inappropriate drugs were prescribed, such as powerful antipsychotics to small children.
Some doctors dine out with drug company representatives every week, while others receive ‘speaking fees’-often as cash in hand-as part of an annual $84m splurge on doctors and hospitals in Washington, DC in 2011. Twelve doctors in the city received more than $100,000 apiece.
In return, researchers at the city’s George Washington University detected “inappropriate prescribing”. Manufacturers of antipsychotic drugs were some of the biggest spenders, who targeted psychiatrists who, in turn, prescribed the drugs to small children. The children are not psychotic, but just have behavioural issues, say the researchers.
Doctors weren’t the only beneficiaries of drug company largesse. Disease-specific ‘patient support groups’ in the city also received lb2.1m in gifts, no doubt to ensure they continued to toe the pharmaceutical line.
(Source: Report from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services).

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