DATABASE: Opioid-makers gushed dollars to Arkansas doctors
Makers of narcotic painkillers gave millions of dollars to Arkansas doctors between 2013 and 2016.
By Amanda Claire Curcio
Makers of narcotic painkillers gave millions of dollars to Arkansas doctors between 2013 and 2016. At least 800 state residents died from opioid overdoses during the same period.
Federal data reveal that opioid manufacturers directed $5 million in "general payments" to about three-quarters of the state's doctors for consulting, meals, travel and promotional speaking.
A smaller group — 1,600 physicians — received a total of nearly $689,000 specifically to promote opioid products during the four-year period, an analysis of federal data by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette shows.
Taking money from drug companies doesn't mean a doctor has done anything wrong, yet recent studies assert that these types of payments, even when under $50, affect how physicians prescribe.
Some doctors, health experts and officials interviewed by the newspaper said that accepting money from pharmaceutical companies presents a conflict of interest for physicians.
"So many doctors are more merchants than they are physicians now," said Dr. Janet Cathey, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "How do doctors get away with it? Your ethical, legitimate doctors won't do this." Read more.