This NYSHealth report examines how payments from opioid manufacturers to physicians may have influenced opioid prescribing in New York State.
Opioid misuse is an ongoing public health emergency in New York State, killing more than 3,000 people in 2016 alone. Both legally prescribed opioids and illicitly manufactured drugs are at the root of this epidemic. In 2016, nearly 9 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in New York State. Financial relationships between physicians and drug manufacturers are common, including payments for speaking and consulting fees, as well as for various gifts such as meals. Between 2013 and 2015, drug manufacturers spent more than $3.5 million in opioid promotion activities with thousands of New York State physicians.
The report finds roughly 1 in 10 physicians who prescribe opioids received a payment, and physicians who prescribe more opioids got more opioid-related payments. Even though most of these payments are relatively small, the data show clear links between payments from manufacturers and increased opioid prescribing. The report makes use of federal databases that track payments from drug manufacturers to physicians and prescribing patterns for Medicare enrollees to examine potential conflicts of interest caused by financial relationships between opioid manufacturers and physicians in New York State. The results add to a growing body of research raising concerns about physician-industry relationships and help shine a light on potential conflicts of interest.