What We're Reading: Industry Money Linked to Increased Prescriptions of Brand Name Drugs

What we're reading, March 17, 2016: doctors who receive more industry money prescribe more brand name drugs; researchers project risk of Zika virus transmission in the US; and use of generic Gleevec could save $100,000 per patient.

A new analysis from ProPublica has found a correlation between how much money doctors receive and the amount of more expensive, brand name drugs they prescribe. Doctors who receive just a meal from drug and device makers were more likely to prescribe a higher percentage of brand name drugs than doctors who didn’t receive anything. The analysis found a wide variation between states regarding the proportion of prescribers who take industry money with higher rates in Nevada, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

Americans living in the South and up the East Coast to New York City have a moderate to high risk of local Zika virus transmission. STAT reported that Miami, Charleston, and New Orleans are among the expected hotspots, but that transmission could spread as far West along the southern border of the US to California. Even Salt Lake City and Denver face at least a low risk of local transmission. However, experts believe any local outbreak in the US would like be short-lived.

Using the generic version of Gleevec, which came onto the US market in January, could save the health system $100,000 per patient over 5 years. In addition, an insurance company treating 100 patients with the generic could save $9.1 million over 5 years, reported Forbes. Novartis expects the generic will reduce sales of Gleevec by $3.2 billion and researchers expect use of the generic will drop the cost of Gleevec from $60,000 a year to $6,000.