Doctors in Connecticut were paid over $27 million from pharmaceutical and medical device companies in 2017, according to a recent story by C-HIT.
The highest paid doctor in 2017 was an orthopedic surgeon in Greenwich, who got over $1 million from a range of companies that year. C-HIT reporter Sujata Srinivasan said many of these doctors deal directly with patients, which raises ethical questions.
"It's human nature to be favorable to those that reward us, and doctors are humans, too," Srinivasan said.
Concerns have been raised by various health care groups that doctors who get paid by drug companies will over-prescribe those drugs to patients. Srinivasan says there is some evidence to suggest that's happening.
"The journal of the National Cancer Institute found that pharma spending on doctors affected their prescribing patterns," she said. "And recently there was a study that found gifts from pharma companies is driving up drug costs. And I quote from the study, 'More prescriptions per patient, more costly prescriptions, and a higher proportion of brand prescriptions'."
Srinivasan's reporting shows that many doctors are OK with the ethics of taking money in the form of gifts and fees, as it helps with the free-flow of information. She suggests that patients keep these facts in mind when they see their doctor.
"So I think a lot of onus would now be on the patient to advocate for themselves, and it's also the onus of the individual doctors to put their patients first," Srinivasan said.
The Affordable Care Act requires that companies disclose their payments to doctors. Many doctors say they feel unfairly judged by this information, Srinivasan said.
Payments in 2017 did go down by about $2 million from the year before. However, it's more than double what doctors got in 2013.