With the ever-growing medical and pharmaceutical industries in our society, more often than not, we see the same types of pharmaceutical drugs being produced by different companies. It seems natural that pharmaceutical companies, which at their core are businesses, would have competition among one another and that some would have more traction than the others. However, does the same still apply for higher sales or exposure of name-brand drugs compared to generic labels, as is common in the consumer market (e.g. Nike vs. store-brand clothes, Bayer vs. CVS-brand aspirin, etc.)?
In a recent study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that training physicians are almost twice as likely to prescribe a name-brand drug to lower blood cholesterol levels (statins) while under the supervision of senior physicians who prefer those specific drugs in their own practice. This study, although for one drug, suggests that there possibly exists a bias in the health profession with regards to pharmaceutical prescriptions.
In terms of statistical data, researchers found that the probability of residents prescribing an expensive name-brand drug, under the supervision of a physician who favors generic statins, was 22.6%. The probability of residents prescribing an expensive name-brand drug, under the supervision of physicians who favor expensive statins, however, drastically increased to 41.6%. This large jump shows how much influence attending physicians and training can have on residents. Lead author of the research article, Dr. Kira Ryskina, stated that, “These findings provide early empirical evidence that low-value practices among physicians are transferred from teachers to trainees, highlighting the importance of re-design of graduate medical education.”
It is clear to see that there is room for improvement in medical education for cost-effectiveness and non-biased prescription practices.
Feature Image Source: Pills 3 by e-Magine Art