One statistic stuck out for Outliers in the text of Vermonts new law putting more limits on gifts that pharmaceutical sales reps can offer doctors: The top individual recipient in 2008 was an internist said to have received $15,794 in food for him or herself and any nonprescribing colleagues.
Outliers: Talk about a free lunch
That works out to $303.73 per week, in case youre wondering.
That tidbit was part of four pages justifying the intent of the bill and provides a lot of food for thought on how drugs are marketed to physiciansin all more than $860,000 worth of food on some 13,275 meals to be exact.
The law cites the recent report by the Vermont attorney general that states thats how much drug companies spent on feeding healthcare providers in the states fiscal 2008, ended June 30. Thats about 30% of the more than $2.9 million that 78 drug manufacturers reported spending on marketing their products to Vermont providers.
Breaking it down, the attorney general reports that 40% of the meal recipients received food valued at less than $100; 20% received more than $500 worth of meals; and 11% had drug companies feeding them food valued at more than $1,000. The top individual recipient received 223 food expenditures from 25 different companies. Second on the list was a family practice specialist who received 149 food expenditures totaling $11,271.
While Vermonts primary-care docs were kept well-fed, the big money went to psychiatrists. There were 11 on the attorney generals top 100 recipient list, and drug detailers spent an average of $43,573 to get inside their heads. This number, however, is most probably skewed, because the top recipient received $112,000 with almost all of that coming from one company in the form of cash or checks paid for speaking engagements.
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