One in 12 doctors accepts opioid-related payments from drug companies

not very significant but went up to reach shocking numbers. Most physicians were paid once a year and received an average of just $15, but some received more than 38 million throughout the length of the entire study — averaging almost 3,000 a year.

Hadland said: “You might think, well what’s the harm of a meal from a drug company? It turns out that another study that used the same data we used [but] looking at blood pressure medications, was able to show that doctors who received just one meal from a drug company — that was valued at only $14 — became more likely to prescribe the medication that was marketed to them. So, even these very small value payments do appear to affect physicians’ prescribing behaviors.”

Consequently,  he thinks policymakers should investigate links between opioid-related payments and cases of opioid misuse or overdose and consider imposing caps on at least some of these payments made by drug companies to doctors.

“There real next step in this research is to understand whether these payments influence doctors’ prescribing patterns,” he said. “I think we have to take a step back and ask ourselves if this is appropriate and ask policymakers whether caps either on the total dollar amount of payments or frequency of these payments might be appropriate.”