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Company Gave Doctor ‘One of the Best Nights of His Life’ to Boost Fentanyl Sales

In an astonishing story, Stat News has related the true tale of a Florida doctor who allegedly accepted “favors” from drug representatives in exchange for writing prescriptions for the opioid drug fentanyl. According to a federal indictment, the doctor “had one of the best nights of his life” when he went out with drug reps, and subsequently received $260,050 in payments over three years in speaking fees — which the feds allege was part of the prescription “bribe.”

Sadly, this is not the first story of drug companies bribing a doctor to push their products. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars to influence, “educate” and entertain doctors around the world and, according to to ProPublica’s “Dollars for Docs” website, ProPublica has found evidence of 1,630 companies that made payments to more than 681,000 doctors, totaling more than $3.5 billion.

Drug companies have long tried to influence doctors’ prescribing habits by paying them for research activities, speaking and other “consulting” fees, or offering gifts of free meals and travel, and major health organizations are not exempt. In fact, in 2010 it was discovered that a World Health Organization adviser on vaccines had received 6 million Euros for his research center. Alas, he wasn’t the only one.

Interestingly, many doctors believe their decision-making isn’t affected by freebies, samples or payments for consulting or speaking, even though another ProPublica analysis says that, indeed, they are swayed. If you are wondering if your doctor is taking drug company “favors,” I urge you to look up ProPublica and follow the money.
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