Are doctors getting commissions for prescribing drugs?

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | White Collar Crimes

As a medical patient in California, you want to trust that your physician is always making the right choices for your health and well-being. And most of the time, this is absolutely true, as most doctors are doing the best they can for their patients at all times.

But unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has influence on certain doctors. Pharmaceutical fraud is real, even if it’s frequently difficult to prove.

Are doctors paid for prescribing drugs?

Start with what the law says: It’s not legal for a doctor to receive benefit for prescribing a certain drug.

But there’s a large gray area where pharmaceutical companies are able to give benefits to doctors. A doctor can receive payment from pharma companies for promoting multiple products in that company’s line.

No doctor is specifically being paid for promoting the drug they’re prescribing you. But that doesn’t mean the doctor has no profit motive to endorse a drug.

Indirect benefits are also legal

In addition to direct incentives in exchange for promoting drug lines, pharmaceutical companies are permitted to offer other benefits to physicians in exchange for prescribing or using those drugs.

Travel and accommodation to conferences are permitted, which allows for pharma companies to create incentives for doctors to be invited to lavish conferences centered on the product offerings of a pharma company.

The law allows for pharmaceutical companies to give money to doctors in multiple ways, which means that a doctor might feel pressure or incentive toward prescribing certain drugs or medicines. And even if there’s no overt pressure, these kinds of benefits can prejudice a doctor in a certain direction when it comes to prescribing drugs.

Federal law forbids doctors from receiving a commission for prescribing a specific drug. However, the law permits pharmaceutical companies to offer other legal incentives to doctors if they prescribe that company’s drugs.

FindLaw Network
Gary Jay Kaufman
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