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Direct-to-Doctor Payments May Increase Opioid Prescribing

Prescribers receiving opioid-specific payments prescribed 8,784 more opioid daily doses per year

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MONDAY, Feb. 4, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- Physicians who receive direct pharmaceutical payments for opioid prescribing prescribe more opioids, especially hydrocodone and oxycodone, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in Addiction.

Thuy D. Nguyen, Ph.D., from Indiana University in Bloomington, and colleagues linked data on all promotions by pharmaceutical companies directly to physicians with physician-level data on opioid prescriptions filled in a federal insurance program. Data were included for 865,347 U.S. physicians with prescriptions filled in Medicare Part D.

The researchers found that compared with their peers who did not receive payments, prescribers who received opioid-specific payments prescribed 8,784 opioid daily doses more per year. A total of 5,161 and 3,624 additional daily doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone, respectively, were associated with receipt of hydrocodone- and oxycodone-related payments. A total of 1,124 more daily doses per year were prescribed by prescribers receiving any fentanyl-specific payments compared with their peers. Among 63,062 recipients of opioid-specific payments, a 1 percent increase in the amount of payments was tied to 50 daily doses of opioid prescription.

"These findings support the significance of ongoing efforts to enhance transparency and efficient regulation regarding pharmaceutical marketing," the authors write.

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