Big Pharma Paying Doctors Handsomely to Speak on Behalf of Anti-Coagulants
Sales of anti-coagulant drugs such as Xarelto are strong, and an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on August 3 could shed new light as to why this is.
According to the article, sales have been helped by new guidelines recommending more extensive use of the medications, as well as a new scale that has helped to boost the number of Americans deemed to be in need of the drug from 3.7 million to 4.7 million. Both the guidelines and the scale, the paper reported, were greatly influenced by British heart doctor Gregory Lip, who has received payments from five companies that either manufacture or market the new anti-coagulants.
A Potentially Alarming Trend
Experts interviewed by the paper expressed concerns regarding how much influence money from pharmaceutical companies can have on the creation of medical guidelines. Even though Lip said the money he received (the amount of which was not disclosed in the article) does not have an effect on his research work, critics contend that these kinds of financial relationships can result in potentially ineffective – or even dangerous – recommendations.
The Journal Sentinel conducted an investigation in 2012 that analyzed the pharmaceutical financial ties of doctors who served on 16 medication guideline panels. It found that 66 percent of doctors on each panel had received money from pharmaceutical companies. More than 80 percent of doctors serving on nine of the panels had financial ties to drug companies.
The article also revealed that companies that either manufacture or market Xarelto (as well as other anti-coagulants Pradaxa and Eliquis) paid guidelines committee members at least $400,000 in food, travel and other expenses from August 2013 to 2014. Payments ranged from $4,000 to $50,000, according to the paper.
Yet another layer of conflict exists when it comes to the medical societies that issue new treatment guidelines for medications, the Journal Sentinel reported. Anti-coagulant drug companies paid those societies at least $40 million over the last four years.
So when you hear about how popular a new medication has become – whether it is an anti-coagulant or any other medication –that popularity may not only be due to the performance of the drug.