Is Your Doctor Getting Kickbacks?

Cheryl Lock

doctor kickbacksHave you ever wondered if your doctor’s making money off the meds she’s telling you to use?

If you have, ProPublica’s new Dollars for Docs database, which compiles information from 15 drug companies on the doctors who receive payments to promote their products, will probably pique your interest.

According to the site, the information compiled represents $2 billion in disclosed payments from 15 companies, which accounts for approximately 47% of the total market share.

All you do is put in the information you wish to search (your doctor’s name, the hospital where you make your visits, etc.) and your state. If your doctor’s name comes up, that means she’s received money from one of the 15 participating drug companies.

According to ProPublica, “payments are legal, so it doesn’t mean your doctor has done anything wrong. But research has shown that drug company marketing can influence what a doctor prescribes, and some experts say it is cause for concern.”

If you do find out that your doctor is on the list for receiving payments from a drug company, it could be worth bringing it up. Ask if there are safe, cheaper generic options, or any other non-drug alternatives to what she’s put you on.

  • Sheila

    i used to work for a company that planned meetings for pharmaceutical database. What this list is probably referring to is what doctors get paid to come and give their input on drug studies the company is trying to run or other uses for their medicines. It is rarely ever to promote a specific drugs. Pharma companies look for experts in the field – say neurology – to talk about what kind of trials they would like to see from a drug company to prove that their drug is better than what is already on the market. The doctors talk about how they would design the study ect. They may also hire a doctor to come and speak about research he has done in the past on a specific disease. The fee that they are paid by the company has to make it worth them losing a day in the office with patients so it seems like a lot but they could be losing 2-3 days in the office. Also – these fees are tracked by the pharma companies and reported to the government because what they are doing is 100% legal and there are specific guidelines in place to prevent any kind of bribery. While I agree that there are probably some doctors who may get “kickbacks” as you call them you, the more likely scenario is that they are participating in developing research and studies in their field…which is a good thing.

  • Javier

    “and some experts say it is cause for concern”? Really?! Its as if the president of a firm gave a press conference presenting a grey future for his industry and then buys stock from his own company once it plummets only to say in another conference that the future is slowly but surely looking much better. I can’t believe the incredible tact with which people approach this issue of doctors getting kickbacks. The law should say that if you get kickbacks from company A you can’t prescribe drugs from company A. Common sense people!

    • Zach Wade

      My wife’s doctor last month prescribed her something for extreme panic attacks/depression (I can’t remember the name of it). EVERYTIME we would go to the doctor’s office we would have to wait an extremely long time. We would see several pharmaceutical reps EVERY visit. Sometimes we could even hear their conversation, which really didn’t make me feel too great about the whole idea of being a doc. We are very both very weary of prescription medicine due. to being previously addicted to rx pain medicine. Anyway, the doctor claimed “this stuff is awesome, I’ve taken it and it works great!”, then he gives her a handful of samples, which automatically set off a red flag in my head. The drug ended up making her anxiety 10 times worse and she would grind her teeth at night while she was sleeping, which led to extreme tooth pain (thanks, DOC!) and anger. As soon as she told me what he said to her I just had this feeling that something was wrong. Looks like this time I was right. We will be finding her a doc who doesn’t get kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies.