humani nil a me alienum puto

random rants about news, the law, healthcare law, economics and anything I find amusing

Factors Influencing Physicians Prescribing NAIDs

In his Healthcare Economist blog, Jason Shafrin, Ph.D. (just recieved – congrats) reported on a recent study in The American Journal of Managed Care concerning the prescribing habits of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NAIDs) among physicians.  The study, entitled Pharmaceutical Company Influence on Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Prescribing Behaviors, describes, through interviews with academic medical center physicians from a variety of specialities, their prescribing habits in order to elicit the general themes that influence their behavior.  As Jason summarizes from the article, they are mostly influenced by the following:

  1. Direct Marketing by pharma detailers.
  2. Patient requests for medication, often driven by direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising.
  3. Habits formed during medical school. Often, these habits are influenced by drug rep visits while the physician was in medical school.
  4. Journals, electronic peer-reviewed literature, and professional meetings.
  5. Local physician expert opinion and practice guidelines.
  6. The physician’s own experience prescribing drugs to patients.

The purpose of the study was to “describe the taxonomy of methods used by pharmaceutical companies to influence physicians’ nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribing behaviors and to elicit physicians’ perceptions of and counterbalances to these influences” since there was a recognized poor adherence to prescribing guidelines for NSAIDs.  The study recognized that physicians describe detailing and direct contact with pharmaceutical representatives, requests from patients inspired by direct-to-consumer advertisements, and marketing during medical school and residency training as primary influences.  The study also reports that physicians described practice guidelines, peer-reviewed evidence, and opinions of local physician experts as important counterweights to pharmaceutical company influence.

The study concludes that the “social and communicative strategies used by pharmaceutical companies can be adapted to improve physicians’ adoption of guidelines for safer NSAID prescribing. Communicative interactions between local experts and other physicians who prescribe NSAIDs may be the critical target for future interventions to promote safer NSAID prescribing.”

Aanand D. Naik, MD and Aaron L. Woofter, MD et al,  (2009) “Pharmaceutical Company Influence on Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Prescribing Behaviors,” Am J Manag Care. 2009 (published online April 1, 2009 and found online April 18, 2009 at http://www.ajmc.com/web-exclusives/managed-care/AJMC_09Apr_Naik_Exclusiv_e9toe15?utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=%2fweb-exclusives%2fmanaged-care%2fAJMC_09Apr_Naik_Exclusiv_e9toe15&utm_content=jshafrin%40ucsd.edu&utm_campaign=AJMC+e-Table+of+Contents+(April+Web+Exclusive)).

via [AJMC] – American Journal of Managed Care.

Filed under: AKS, Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Health Law, Pharmacy, , ,

PartnersHealthCare Announces Industry Relationship Policy

The WSJ Health Blog in its April 10, 2009 posting reported that Parterns Healthcare, which includes Harvard-affiliated Mass General, had issued a report recommending tighter restrictions on industry relationships with its physicians.

The news release by Partners listed key recommendations from its report:

Prohibition of all gifts, including meals and funding for meals, provided directly to staff by industry for their personal use, on a Partners site or off site. This ban also applies to Partners institutions accepting industry gifts for this purpose.

Development of mechanisms to have free drug samples distributed only through the hospital pharmacy or some other centralized system, and not provided directly to or distributed by physicians.

Requiring that industry representatives have written invitations defining the purpose and terms of visits before having access to Partners sites and staff.

Establishment of a process to identify and manage significant financial interests held by physicians in companies that make products they prescribe or use in their practices.

Acceptance of industry funding for educational programs and fellowships only if provided through a centrally pooled institutional President’s Fund at each hospital or approved by a newly-created, Partners-wide Educational Review Board.

Establishment of a robust, tiered approach to evaluate research-related conflicts of interest, including continued prohibition of certain high-risk circumstances.

Adoption of a stricter policy holding certain officials to a higher standard because of their influential positions within the organization.

Strengthened oversight of permitted outside activities, including a ban on faculty participation in industry speakers bureaus, an express prohibition on faculty being listed as authors on papers ghostwritten by others, and a more rigorous internal review process for certain outside activities.

Development of an enhanced infrastructure, including creation of a new Conflict of Interest Review Committee, responsible for education, oversight, and enforcement of Partners policies and practices in regard to industry interactions.

The system plans to adopt revised policies and procedures by October 1, 2009 and acknowledges that a significant training and education program will be necessary during the roll-out of these changes.  The 30 page report details the commissions charge, its process, its internal review, external factors and recommendations. The press release link is below.

CommissionPressRelease_PartnersHealthCare2009.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Filed under: Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Fraud and Abuse, Health Law, Reform, , , ,

Doctors Urge End to Corporate Ties – NYTimes.com

The NY Times Health Blog on April 1 reports that JAMA published a paper in its April 1, 2009 edition.   The paper recommends that medical professional associations adopt stricter conflict-of-interest guidelines.  Mere disclosure of financial ties to drug and medical device companies is not sufficient.  They also advocate barring members industry financial ties from entering leadership positions and participating in influential committees within the association.

The blog further reports that:

The authors are particularly adamant that professional medical associations should neither accept corporate money to underwrite the development of practice guidelines nor allow members with financial ties to industry to serve on committees that develop the guidelines, which are usually widely adopted as the gold standard for medical practice. … “The consensus here was quite clear: You do not want the piper calling the tune,” said David J. Rothman, a professor of social medicine at Columbia University. “We ask that these groups make every effort to get to zero percent and, knowing that it is very difficult to do that, that they move as rapidly as possible to no more than 25 percent,” referring to how much of their support should come from industry.

Commentary from Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America was also reported in the blog, reminding of the amount of money that industry provides for necessary research and other support of healthcare providers.

“The vast majority of the research is funded by pharmaceutical companies,” Ms. Powell said. Important decisions regarding practice guidelines might be made, she said, by “very junior people who have no experience.”

via Doctors Urge End to Corporate Ties – NYTimes.com.

Note a similar post in the WSJ Health Blog.

Filed under: Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Health Law, Pharmacy, Reform, , , ,

The Washington Independent » Rick Scott on His Health Care Record

The NY Times did an article on Mr. Rick Scott recently. Also of note, The Washington Independent interviewed Rick Scott on March 31, 2009.  You’ll recall him as the ousted CEO of Columbia/HCA after their trillion dollar fraud settlement with the federal government.  He’s back in the headlines as a ‘conservative’ voice against a potential Obama healthcare reform initiative.  I note only due to his comments on Columbia/HCA at the time.

RICK SCOTT: There’s no grudge. First off, if you go back and look at what we accomplished at Columbia/HCA, it was the lowest prices and best outcomes. I left and nothing happened to me. I can’t do anything about what people want to complain about. But if you look at what we’re doing, we’re doing the right things.

TWI: What, specifically?

RICK SCOTT: If you go look at Solantic [which Scott co-founded in 2001], we have transparency on prices, we’re dramatically less expensive than everyone else and we have a great service. Or go back and look at Columbia, look at all the objective measures. Go look at joint commission, accommodation, at accreditation. If you look at the top 100 hospitals, we started with less than seven percent of them. My last year, we had 27 percent of those hospitals. If you look at my management team, all of my management team went on and ran hospital companies.

TWI: People can still say, “Look, this was the guy who resigned in the biggest fraud settlement in American history.”

RICK SCOTT: But, you know, we were the biggest company. If you go back and look at the hospital industry, and the whole health care industry since the mid-1990s, it was basically constantly going through investigations. Great institutions, like ours, paid fines. It was too bad.

via The Washington Independent » Rick Scott on His Health Care Record.

Filed under: AKS, CMP, Drug Policy, Executive Compensation, Health Law, Reform, Risk Management, , ,

Healthcare Economist · Comparison of Pharmacists and Primary Care Providers as Immunizers

In his Healthcare Economist blog, Jason Shafrin writes about a recent paper he wrote with John Fontanesi, Jan Hirsch, Sarah Lorentz, and Debra Bowers and had published in American Journal of Pharmaceutical Benefits.  The paper (which I have not reviewed) analyzes the efficacy and quality of immunizations as provided in primary care offices and pharmacies in California.  The abstact is below and observes that from a consistency, cost and productivity stand point, pharmacies might be a better alternative. 

This study examines the potential role of “alternative community immunizers,” specifically pharmacists, in providing immunization services. A convenience sampling of almost 700 adults eligible for vaccinations was taken from 15 ambulatory care settings and 11 pharmacies in San Diego, California between 2006 and 2008. The results of the study found that patient characteristics and beliefs were similar between primary care and pharmacies, but pharmacies proved more consistent in following safety protocols; had lower unit costs; and were more efficient, with greater productivity. We conclude that pharmacies combine the best immunization practices of routine scheduled primary care visits and mass influenza vaccination clinics, but gaps still exist in pharmacies’ ability to effectively transmit immunization records securely and provider willingness to embrace these “alternative immunizers.“

via Healthcare Economist · Comparison of Pharmacists and Primary Care Providers as Immunizers.

Filed under: Comparative Effectiveness Rearch, Drug Policy, Health Law, Pharmacy, Primary Care, Quality Reporting, Reform, Risk Management, , ,

Glaxo Expands List of Public Payments to Doctors – Health Blog – WSJ

In its Health Blog, the WSJ reports on March 25, 2009:

GlaxoSmithKline last year promised to publish payments to U.S. docs for consulting and other services starting in 2010, and to cap those payments at $150,000 per doctor a year. Now, the company is expanding on its promise.For clinical trials starting in 2010 and after, Glaxo said yesterday it will publicly report the money it pays U.S. doctors and their institutions to carry out the studies*** Disclosing more and more about payments to health-care professionals is a trend du jour in the industry. The list of drug companies and device makers that have said they’ll start reporting payments to docs includes Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Merck and Medtronic. Exactly what payments get reported varies from company to company.  All those self-imposed reporting plans could soon be moot. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which has been kicking around for a while, would create national rules for what payments drug and device makers have to publicly disclose.

via Glaxo Expands List of Public Payments to Doctors – Health Blog – WSJ.

Filed under: AKS, Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Fraud and Abuse, Health Law, , ,

Psychiatric Group Ends Industry-Sponsored Seminars – NYTimes.com

The March 25, 2009 NYT reports:

[T]he American Psychiatric Association announced on Wednesday that it would end industry-financed medical seminars at its annual meeting. ***The association, the field’s premier organization, said it would also phase out meals at the meeting paid for with industry money. ***The association has been reviewing the income it received from industry sources since early 2008, Dr. Stotland said, looking for potential conflicts. Since then, Congressional investigators, led by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, have found that several prominent psychiatrists who received hundreds of thousands to more than $1 million from drug makers did not report that income to their employers, as required by federal and most academic rules. ***The psychiatric association said it had no plans to eliminate drug advertisements in its journals, commercial exhibits at meetings, or industry-sponsored fellowships for doctors.

via Psychiatric Group Ends Industry-Sponsored Seminars – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Health Law, , , ,

An Overseer of Medical Trials Comes Under Fire – NYTimes.com

The NYT reports:

“The company, Coast Independent Review Board, of Colorado Springs, was recently snared when undercover federal investigators created a sham medical study to see how closely companies like Coast evaluate the studies they are paid to review. Two of Coast’s competitors refused to approve the study’s design. But Coast approved a trial, involving a make-believe surgical product called Adhesiabloc and researchers who did not exist. *** The hearing follows incidents in recent years in which patients have died during clinical trials or companies have submitted fraudulent data to the Food and Drug Administration to get new medical products approved. During this period, the oversight of clinical trial safety has shifted from academic medical institutions to commercial firms like Coast. ***Over a five-year period, Coast reviewed 356 study proposals and rejected only one[.] *** In a report presented at Thursday’s hearing, officials of the Government Accountability Office, a research arm of Congress, said they had found that the commercial review system was vulnerable to manipulation.***In responding to undercover solicitations from G.A.O. investigators, two other companies — Argus Independent Review Board, of Tucson, and Fox Commercial Institutional Review Board, of Springfield, Ill. — refused to approve the Adhesiabloc plan. In their responses, they called the trial design “awful,” and “a piece of junk,” according to the G.A.O. ***In another part of the G.A.O. operation discussed at the hearing, investigators last year created a fictitious clinical trial oversight company and registered it with the department.

via An Overseer of Medical Trials Comes Under Fire – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Conflicts of Interest, Drug Policy, Fraud and Abuse, Health Law, Reform, , , ,

Strip-Search Case Tests How Far Schools Can Go – NYTimes.com

As reported on March 23, 2009 in the New York Times, the Supreme Court will shortly address a case concerning the scope of student searches.   In the case, an assistant principal, enforcing the school’s antidrug policies, suspected a thirteen year old student of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school. One of the pills is as strong as two Advils.  After being strip searched to the her underwear, they conducted further intimate searches.   The student, who was an honor student, had no pills.

At issue will be how much leeway school officials should have in policing zero-tolerance policies for drugs and violence.  The court is likely to provide important guidance to schools around the nation.  The Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, found a Fourth Amendment violation by the school, ruling that such a search should be bannned as unreasonable.  This was not without dissent by Judge Hawkins who concluded, “I do not think it was unreasonable for school officials, acting in good faith, to conduct the search in an effort to obviate a potential threat to the health and safety of their students.”

The Supreme Court’s last major decision on school searches based on individual suspicion — as opposed to systematic drug testing programs — was in 1985, when it allowed school officials to search a student’s purse without a warrant or probable cause as long their suspicions were reasonable. It did not address intimate searches.

In his The Health Care Blog of March 24, 2009,  Matthew Holt argues that this case, together with the current drug cartel unrest in Mexico and the previous administration’s prosecution of medical marijuana growers distributors shows the “lunacy” of our current drug laws.  No comment here, but interesting discussion.

via Strip-Search Case Tests How Far Schools Can Go – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Drug Policy, Health Law, Personal Posts, ,

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