Doctors Pressured to Prescribe Brand Name Drugs

Edmond J. Safra Center Faculty Affiliate Eric G. Campbell (Professor, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital) and Lab Fellow Genevieve Pham-Kanter, along with co-authors Lisa I. Iezzoni and Christine Vogeli at Massachusetts General Hospital, have published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine looking at how frequently doctors prescribe brand name drugs at the request of their patients.


Analyzing data from a national survey of physicians in 7 specialties, they find that 37% of physicians reported prescribing a brand name drug even when a generic was available because their patients requested the brand. Certain types of industry relationships were important predictors of physicians acquiescing to patient demands for brand name drugs. Physicians who received workplace food and/or beverages paid by pharmaceutical companies, who received free drug samples, and who reported meeting frequently with industry representatives were more likely to acquiesce to patient demands for brand name drugs despite their knowing that there were generic substitutes for the brands. Physicians who more frequently read medical journals (relative to those who never or rarely read these journals), however, were less likely to accommodate these kinds of patient demands. A summary of the study may be found here. The study in JAMA Internal Medicine may be found here.

This piece was also covered in the Harvard Gazette.

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