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Pharmaceutical companies: An $84 million marketing effort in the District of Columbia
Date:2/28/2013

Washington, D.C.Drug companies spent nearly $84 million marketing pharmaceuticals in the District of Columbia in 2011, including an outlay of nearly $19 million for gifts given to physicians, hospitals and other health care providers, according to a report by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS). The report notes that 12 physicians in the District received gifts (including consulting payments) that totaled more than $100,000 apiece that one year alone.

"There is nothing inherently wrong with such gifts," said Susan F. Wood, PhD, lead researcher and an associate professor of health policy and of environmental and occupational health at SPHHS. "However, this report draws attention to the amount being spent on marketing drugs and raises questions about whether some heavily marketed drugs may be prescribed more extensively than is appropriate."

The report fulfills the requirement of a 2004 law in the District of Columbia that requires all pharmaceutical companies to file annual reports describing their prescription-drug marketing activities in the District. The AccessRx Act also requires analysis of these reports to determine how pharmaceutical marketing may affect healthcare services in the District.

In fact, a previous study by Wood and her colleagues showed that drug companies making antipsychotic drugs gave a disproportionate amount of gifts and payments to District psychiatrists who treat Medicaid patients. Close ties between the drug companies and psychiatrists might have led to inappropriate prescribing for Medicaid patients, and particularly for children, according to D.C. Council Member David Catania, who held a hearing on the issue last November.

"Antipsychotics are often prescribed to children who are not in fact psychotic but have behavioral problems," said Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, a co-author on both reports and an associate professor of pharmacology a
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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University
Source:Eurekalert

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