NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 28, 2007

As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty, says Gardiner Harris in the New York Times.


  • Vermont officials recently disclosed that drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year, to an average of $45,692 each from $20,835 in 2005.
  • Overall, drug makers spent $2.25 million on marketing payments, fees and travel expenses to Vermont doctors, hospitals and universities last year, a 2.3 percent increase over the prior year.
  • As in Vermont, psychiatrists earned on aggregate the most in Minnesota, with payments ranging from $51 to $689,000.

How this money may be influencing psychiatrists and other doctors has become one of the most contentious issues in health care.  For instance:

  • The more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved.
  • Beyond the danger of such drugs, there is also a large cost component -- antipsychotic medicines are among the largest expenses for the state's Medicaid program, meaning taxpayers may be the ones picking up the cost for the marketed drugs.

Source: Gardiner Harris, "Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts," New York Times, June 27, 2007.

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