Two articles in the May 9th  New York Times highlight a pattern of pharmaceutical industry payments of doctors being linked to dramatically increased prescriptions of questionable drugs.

First, one report indicates that pharmaceutical companies have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to doctors in return for prescribing anemia drugs, the safety and effectiveness of which the FDA questions. . The anemia drugs are injected or given intravenously in physicians’ offices or dialysis centers. Doctors receive the rebates after they buy the drugs from the companies, but they also receive reimbursement from Medicare or private insurers for the drugs, often at a markup over the doctors’ purchase price.  Just  one group of six cancer doctors received $2.7 million from Amgen for prescribing $9 million worth of its drugs last year.

Second, an analysis of records  in Minnesota provides documentation of how financial relationships between doctors and drug makers correspond to the growing use of atypical antipsychotics in children, despite profound risks and almost no approved uses for minors.  From 2000 to 2005, pharmaceutical industry payments Minnesota psychiatrists rose more than sixfold, while  prescriptions of antipsychotics for children in Minnesota’s Medicaid program rose more than ninefold.  The New York Times data suggests that those who took the most money from makers of atypical antipsychotics medications  tended to prescribe the drugs to children the most often.

Doctors insist that payments from drug companies do not influence what they prescribe for patients, but the intersection of money and medicine, and its effect on the well-being of patients, has become one of the most contentious issues in health care.  This presents a real dilemma for patients who want and need to trust their physicians, but who are uninformed about the scientific studies about medications and the financial relationships between pharmaceutical companies, researchers, medical educators and prescribing physicians.

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.