Here is another reason that US taxpayers may want to know why some doctors prescribe some drugs. Medicare Part D, as you know, helps cover the cost of many medicines for many people. But what if a physician is paid speaking or consulting fees by a drugmaker and then prescribes its medicine, even if there is no added benefit compared with cheaper alternatives? This could raise the bill for taxpayers.
This sort of inflated expense is a side effect of what some call extreme prescribing – a trend in which some physicians write prescriptions for a particular drug at an outsized pace that may or may not have a reasonable explanation. The phenomenon is not new, of course, and in fact was the subject of a US Senate Finance Committee probe into prescribing patterns for antipsychotics around the country (back story).
As a result, there is growing interest in prescribing patterns and, for the first time, a link has been established between doctors who write large numbers of prescriptions that are covered by Medicare Part D and the fees these same physicians receive from drugmakers. Not surprisingly, the results are causing concern about undue influence on medical practice and taxpayer budgets.