Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Dollars For Docs From Drug Companies

State doctors, hospitals raked in $50.4 million and tend to prescribe those drugs.

By - Dec 22nd, 2016 03:05 pm
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Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Pills by Tom Varco (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Since 2009, ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit newsroom, has been tracking payments from pharmaceutical companies to health professionals, through its data base, Dollars for Docs. Back in 2013, we reported the results for Wisconsin: From 2009 through 2012, more than $24 million went to Wisconsin health professionals. Eli Lilly and Pfizer each spent about $6 million, followed by Merck and AstraZeneca at about $3 million.

This month, Pro Publica updated its data, adding payments made through December 2015. It found that “companies made about $2 billion in general payments to 618,000 physicians each year, in addition to another $600 million a year to teaching hospitals. General payments cover promotional speaking, consulting, meals, travel, gifts and royalties.”

“The 10 drugs for which companies spent the most in payments to physicians in 2015 (teaching hospital payments not included) were blood thinner Xarelto ($28.4 million), rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira ($24.9 million), diabetes drug Invokana ($20.9 million), hepatitis C drug Viekira ($19.2 million), blood thinner Eliquis ($18.8 million), diabetes drug Bydureon ($18.5 million), testosterone drug Androgel ($15.3 million), thyroid drug Synthroid ($14.7 million), synthetic hormone Lupron ($14.3 million) and diabetes drug Victoza ($11.9 million).”

As ProPublica has previously documented, “physicians who receive payments from the industry tend to prescribe more brand-name drugs than those who don’t. Several academic studies later had similar findings. We also recently reported that companies continue to work with thousands of doctors who have received disciplinary sanctions against their licenses.”

Often the drugs most aggressively promoted to doctors aren’t cures. “Some are top sellers, but most are not,” Pro Publica noted. “Less expensive generic alternatives are available for some of the drugs on the list.”

California, the nation’s biggest state, also received the most payments: doctors there have received $1.44 billion from drug companies. Wisconsin ranked 25th among the states, with $50.4 million in payments received. Here the top ten doctors in the state in payments received:

  1. Jasbir Sra
    Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
    Prairie Du Chien
  2. Ben Graf
    Sports Medicine
    Cottage Grove
  3. Thomas Zdeblick
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Cottage Grove
  4. Neil Leubke
    Dentist, Endodontics
  5. Lucian Lozonschi
    Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgery)
    Cottage Grove
  6. Dennis Miller
    Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
  7. Jeffrey McLauglin
    Orthopaedic Surgery
  8. Robert Churchill
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    West Bend
  9. Michael Anderson
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    West Bend
  10. Rajeev Jain
    Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
    West Bend

And here are the 10 hospital systems in the state getting the most payments from drug companies:

  1. University of WI Hospitals & Clinics
  2. Aurora Health Care Metro Inc.
  3. West Allis Memorial Hospital, Inc.
    West Allis
  4. Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center I
    La Crosse
  5. Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin
  6. Mercy Health System Corporation
  7. Aspirus Wausau Hospital
  8. Columbia St Marys Hospital Milwaukee
  9. Waukesha Memorial Hospital
  10. Froedtert mem. Lutheran Hospt.

Pro Publica’s reporting come from disclosures required under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. As it notes, “A bill before Congress this year would have watered down some of the disclosure requirements in the Sunshine Act, but the proposal was stripped from the 21st Century Cures Act before it passed.”

One thought on “Back in the News: Dollars For Docs From Drug Companies”

  1. blurondo says:

    What’s is the water in West Bend?

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