1 in 12 US physicians received a payment involving an opioid

From the American Journal of Public Health:

Approximately 1 in 12 US physicians received a payment involving an opioid during the 29-month study. These findings should prompt an examination of industry influences on opioid prescribing.

That’s not 1 in 12 pain specialists, or 1 in 12 addiction medicine specialists, that’s 1 in 12 US physicians.

Here are more details:

Over the study period, 375,266 nonresearch payments involving a marketed opioid were made to 68,177 physicians, totaling $46,158,388. Total payments increased from $18,958,125 in 2014 to $20,996,858 in 2015, an increase of 10.7%. The number of payments increased from 145,715 in 2014 to 184,237 in 2015, an increase of 26.4%.

The 5 opioid products constituting the greatest proportion of payments were fentanyl ($21,240,794; 46.0% of total dollars), hydrocodone ($7,123,421; 15.4%), buprenorphine transdermal patch ($5,141,808; 11.1%), oxycodone ($4,487,978; 9.7%), and tapentadol ($4,296,130; 9.3%). Overall, payments for FDA-approved abuse-deterrent formulations totaled $9,352,959 (20.3%), and payments for buprenorphine or buprenorphine/naloxone marketed for addiction treatment totaled $4,561,729 (9.9%).

The median payment was low, around $50.

However, a JAMA published study reached the following conclusions about compensation as small as a meal:

Receipt of industry-sponsored meals was associated with an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication that was being promoted. The findings represent an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.