Susan F. Wood, Ph.D., lead researcher and an associate professor of health policy and of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, and colleagues published a report on Feb. 28, 2013, in conjunction with the requirements of the 2004 AccessRx Act in the District of Columbia that shows drug companies spent nearly $84 million marketing pharmaceuticals in the District of Columbia in 2011.
The report notes that 12 physicians in the District received gifts (including consulting payments) that totaled more than $100,000 each in 2011.
A small number of companies - 23 out of 158 - reported marketing expenditures of more than $1 million apiece on marketing their products in the District.
The report also found that 22 percent of total marketing expenditures, or $18.9 million, went to "gifts” - a category that included grants, speaker's fees and food.
Hospitals, clinics and other organizations received gifts totaling $9.7 million, and individuals received $9.2 million. Some nurses and pharmacists received gifts in 2011. Most of the pharmaceutical company largesse, nearly 82 percent, went to doctors. Most gifts to doctors were described by the drug companies as speaking fees and were paid in the form of cash or checks.
Other findings of the report include:
Out of nearly 3,400 physicians in the District who received at least one food gift, 444 received ten or more meals from pharmaceutical companies during 2011 and 33 physicians got 52 or more of these food gifts. This finding suggests some physicians are dining with drug reps on a weekly basis.
The top ten professional organizations (representing health professionals in a specific specialty or demographic group) received a total of $3.5 million, with half of those gifts valued at $20,000 or more.
The top ten Disease-Specific Organizations based in the District received $2.1 million in gifts such as cash or checks from drug companies. These organizations often represent and advise patients, and the concern is that large gifts could sway such groups to favor or recommend the company's products, the report said.
If drug companies spend as much in each state as they do in the District of Columbia then doctors receive over four billion dollars a year in gifts.
This is all legal at present.
Health and pharmaceutical lobbying added $257,020,868 to U. S. Senatorial and Congressional campaign coffers in 2011 to 2012 according to OpenSecrets.com so do not look for help from the Congress or Senate.
The idea is that once the doctors in your area who are the largest recipients of pharmaceutical “gifts” are known the number of gifts may decrease. The number of gifts will decrease if those doctors who get the most are boycotted by local patients.
The idea is that pharmaceutical companies could spend less on buying doctors to prescribe their products and spend that money on research and development. This could mean lower drug costs to everyone but only of you stay informed and boycott the most “gifted” physicians.