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1 in 12 U.S. doctors got payment from opioid makers

"...these medications continue to be broadly promoted and marketed, even in light of the accelerating opioid epidemic in the US."

As public health officials combat the opioid overdose epidemic, in part by reducing unnecessary prescribing, a study shows that drug manufacturers paid more than $46 million to more than 68,000 doctors over a 29-month period.

“What we found was astounding…”

In a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Brandon Marshall, associate professor of epidemiology in the Brown University School of Health, and colleagues report for the first time on the tens of millions of dollars that drug companies are paying doctors through meals, honoraria, and other marketing and education programs.

“The opioid epidemic, which is responsible for thousands of deaths every year, is a national tragedy that we must work at every level to combat,” Marshall says in a Boston Medical Center report of the findings. Scott Hadland of Boston Medical Center is lead author of the study.

“It’s our hope that this study sparks a bigger conversation about the role of pharmaceutical companies in the over-prescribing of opioid medications and prompts a more thorough investigation about what we need to do to tackle this problem.”

Here, Marshall shares additional thoughts on what the team found and what it may mean:

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