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Opioid Marketing & Meals Tied to Opioid Prescribing

A current study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that while US physicians who received no opioid-related marketing payments had fewer opioid prescriptions in 2015 compared with 2014, those receiving such payments wrote for more opioid in 2015.

Despite the increasing contribution of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl to opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States, 40% of deaths involve prescription opioids.  While opioid prescribing has declined nationally, 2015 rate aer still three times higher than that seen in 1999.

Researchers reviewed physician payments from pharmaceutical companies in 2014 and linked these to prescribing patterns in 2014 and 2015. 

Of the 369,139 physicians studied, 7% received nonresearch opioid-related payments totaling $9, 071,976 in payments. Only 1.7% received >$1000 or total.  Marketing payments included speaking fees and/or honoraria, meals, travel, consulting fees, and education.

In multivariable modeling, receipt of any opioid-related payments from industry in 2014 was associated with 9.3% more opioid claims in 2015 compared with physicians who received no payments. Moreover, each industry meal was associated with an increase of 0.7% in opioid claims.

What a way to earn a meal.

Disclosures: 
The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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