Avoid taking drugs unless they are absolutely necessary ; very few meds are indispensable

Trust me, I’m a doctor. Perhaps not…

“Most people let their doctor make the decisions for them, but the evidence tells us that we should be cautious. Doctors make many errors of judgment, and they get much of their information from the drug industry. They therefore use far too many drugs, often because they do not know better.

We live in a world that is so overdiagnosed and overtreated that in high-income countries, our medications are the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. This has been demonstrated by several independent studies in Europe and North America. It has also been shown that medical errors, including incidents apart from drug-related errors, are the third leading cause of death even when only counting hospital patients’ deaths.”

Read Trust me, I’m a doctor, by Professor Peter C. Gøtzsche, on crossfit, June 16, 2019.

Image credit theguardian.

The Depression Pill Epidemic

The medicine drugs do not cure, lead to much harm, and should be avoided

“In some countries, including the United States, about 10% of the entire population is in treatment with depression pills. This is a tragedy. These drugs do not have relevant effects on depression; they increase the risk of suicide and violence; and they make it more difficult for patients to live normal lives. They should therefore be avoided. We have been fooled by the drug industry, corrupt doctors on industry payroll, and by our drug regulators.

Surely, many patients and doctors believe the pills are helpful, but they cannot know this, because people tend to become much better with time even if they are not treated. This is why we need placebo-controlled trials to find out what the drugs do to people. Unfortunately, virtually all trials are flawed, exaggerate the benefits of the drugs, and underestimate their harms.” …

Overview

  • Cold turkey in the placebo group
  • Lack of blinding
  • Irrelevant outcomes

continue reading The Depression Pill Epidemic, by Professor Peter C. Gøtzsche, on crossfit, June 4, 2019.

Pharma industry marketing linked to increased prescribing and elevated mortality

Association of Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing of Opioid Products With Mortality From Opioid-Related Overdoses

The new study concluded that drug companies’ marketing of opioids to physicians was “associated with increased opioid prescribing and, subsequently, with elevated mortality from overdoses.”

Read Opioid crisis shows partnering with industry can be bad for public health, theconversation, March 6, 2019.

2019 Study Key Points

Question
To what extent is pharmaceutical industry marketing of opioids to physicians associated with subsequent mortality from prescription opioid overdoses?

Findings
In this population-based, cross-sectional study, $39.7 million in opioid marketing was targeted to 67 507 physicians across 2208 US counties between August 1, 2013, and December 31, 2015. Increased county-level opioid marketing was associated with elevated overdose mortality 1 year later, an association mediated by opioid prescribing rates; per capita, the number of marketing interactions with physicians demonstrated a stronger association with mortality than the dollar value of marketing.

Meaning
The potential role of pharmaceutical industry marketing in contributing to opioid prescribing and mortality from overdoses merits ongoing examination.

Abstract

Importance
Prescription opioids are involved in 40% of all deaths from opioid overdose in the United States and are commonly the first opioids encountered by individuals with opioid use disorder. It is unclear whether the pharmaceutical industry marketing of opioids to physicians is associated with mortality from overdoses.

Objective
To identify the association between direct-to-physician marketing of opioid products by pharmaceutical companies and mortality from prescription opioid overdoses across US counties.

Design, Setting, and Participants
This population-based, county-level analysis of industry marketing information used data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Open Payments database linked with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on opioid prescribing and mortality from overdoses. All US counties were included, with data on overdoses from August 1, 2014, to December 31, 2016, linked to marketing data from August 1, 2013, to December 31, 2015, using a 1-year lag. Statistical analyses were conducted between February 1 and June 1, 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures
County-level mortality from prescription opioid overdoses, total cost of marketing of opioid products to physicians, number of marketing interactions, opioid prescribing rates, and sociodemographic factors.

Results
Between August 1, 2013, and December 31, 2015, there were 434 754 payments totaling $39.7 million in nonresearch-based opioid marketing distributed to 67 507 physicians across 2208 US counties. After adjustment for county-level sociodemographic factors, mortality from opioid overdoses increased with each 1-SD increase in marketing value in dollars per capita (adjusted relative risk, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.05-1.12), number of payments to physicians per capita (adjusted relative risk, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.14-1.21, and number of physicians receiving marketing per capita (adjusted relative risk, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.08-1.16). Opioid prescribing rates also increased with marketing and partially mediated the association between marketing and mortality.

Conclusions and Relevance
In this study, across US counties, marketing of opioid products to physicians was associated with increased opioid prescribing and, subsequently, with elevated mortality from overdoses. Amid a national opioid overdose crisis, reexamining the influence of the pharmaceutical industry may be warranted.

Meet the people who lived with defective devices

Implant Files, video published by ICIJ, 25 November 2018

ICIJ listened to hundreds of stories from patients with poorly-functioning medical devices. Here are just five of their testimonies.

Read more about ICIJ implant files investigation.

ICIJfights corruption with the world’s best cross-border watchdog journalism by over 160 investigative reporters in 60+ countries. The home of Offshore Leaks.”

Why join the Implant Files investigation ?

Implant Files, video published by ICIJ, 25 November 2018

Journalists explain why they decided to investigate medical device harm with ICIJ reporters.

Read more about ICIJ implant files investigation.

ICIJfights corruption with the world’s best cross-border watchdog journalism by over 160 investigative reporters in 60+ countries. The home of Offshore Leaks.”

A global investigation into medical device harm

Implant Files, video published by ICIJ, 24 November 2018

Patients around the world have become unwitting test subjects for new medical technology. Often following the trusted advice of their doctors, they have been injured, maimed and killed by poorly-tested implants.

Read more about the their implant files investigation.

ICIJfights corruption with the world’s best cross-border watchdog journalism by over 160 investigative reporters in 60+ countries. The home of Offshore Leaks”.

Shorter courses will help reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics

Duration of antibiotic treatment for common infections in English primary care: cross sectional analysis and comparison with guidelines

Abstract

Objective
To evaluate the duration of prescriptions for antibiotic treatment for common infections in English primary care and to compare this with guideline recommendations.

Design
Cross sectional study.

Setting
General practices contributing to The Health Improvement Network database, 2013-15.

Participants
931 015 consultations that resulted in an antibiotic prescription for one of several indications: acute sinusitis, acute sore throat, acute cough and bronchitis, pneumonia, acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute otitis media, acute cystitis, acute prostatitis, pyelonephritis, cellulitis, impetigo, scarlet fever, and gastroenteritis.

Main outcome measures
The main outcomes were the percentage of antibiotic prescriptions with a duration exceeding the guideline recommendation and the total number of days beyond the recommended duration for each indication.

Results
The most common reasons for antibiotics being prescribed were acute cough and bronchitis (386 972, 41.6% of the included consultations), acute sore throat (239 231, 25.7%), acute otitis media (83 054, 8.9%), and acute sinusitis (76 683, 8.2%). Antibiotic treatments for upper respiratory tract indications and acute cough and bronchitis accounted for more than two thirds of the total prescriptions considered, and 80% or more of these treatment courses exceeded guideline recommendations. Notable exceptions were acute sinusitis, where only 9.6% (95% confidence interval 9.4% to 9.9%) of prescriptions exceeded seven days and acute sore throat where only 2.1% (2.0% to 2.1%) exceeded 10 days (recent guidance recommends five days). More than half of the antibiotic prescriptions were for longer than guidelines recommend for acute cystitis among females (54.6%, 54.1% to 55.0%). The percentage of antibiotic prescriptions exceeding the recommended duration was lower for most non-respiratory infections. For the 931 015 included consultations resulting in antibiotic prescriptions, about 1.3 million days were beyond the durations recommended by guidelines.

Conclusion
For most common infections treated in primary care, a substantial proportion of antibiotic prescriptions have durations exceeding those recommended in guidelines. Substantial reductions in antibiotic exposure can be accomplished by aligning antibiotic prescription durations with guidelines.

Evaluating the Strength of the Association Between Industry Payments and Prescribing Practices in Oncology

Doctor payments drove scripts for cancer drugs from Pfizer, Novartis and more: study

New study showed that physicians who received payments over three consecutive years and tied to a specific drug boosted their prescriptions of that product.

Abstract

Background
Financial relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry are common, but factors that may determine whether such relationships result in physician practice changes are unknown.

Materials and Methods
We evaluated physician use of orally administered cancer drugs for four cancers: prostate (abiraterone, enzalutamide), renal cell (axitinib, everolimus, pazopanib, sorafenib, sunitinib), lung (afatinib, erlotinib), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML; dasatinib, imatinib, nilotinib). Separate physician cohorts were defined for each cancer type by prescribing history. The primary exposure was the number of calendar years during 2013–2015 in which a physician received payments from the manufacturer of one of the studied drugs; the outcome was relative prescribing of that drug in 2015, compared with the other drugs for that cancer. We evaluated whether practice setting at a National Cancer Institute (NCI)‐designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, receipt of payments for purposes other than education or research (compensation payments), maximum annual dollar value received, and institutional conflict‐of‐interest policies were associated with the strength of the payment‐prescribing association. We used modified Poisson regression to control confounding by other physician characteristics.

Results
Physicians who received payments for a drug in all 3 years had increased prescribing of that drug (compared with 0 years), for renal cell (relative risk [RR] 1.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.58–2.07), CML (RR 1.22, 95% CI 1.08–1.39), and lung (RR 1.69, 95% CI 1.58–1.82), but not prostate (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.93–1.02). Physicians who received compensation payments or >$100 annually had increased prescribing compared with those who did not, but NCI setting and institutional conflict‐of‐interest policies were not consistently associated with the direction of prescribing change.

Conclusion
The association between industry payments and cancer drug prescribing was greatest among physicians who received payments consistently (within each calendar year). Receipt of payments for compensation purposes, such as for consulting or travel, and higher dollar value of payments were also associated with increased prescribing.

Implications for Practice
Financial payments from pharmaceutical companies are common among oncologists. It is known from prior work that oncologists tend to prescribe more of the drugs made by companies that have given them money. By combining records of industry gifts with prescribing records, this study identifies the consistency of payments over time, the dollar value of payments, and payments for compensation as factors that may strengthen the association between receiving payments and increased prescribing of that company’s drug.

Press release.

The Effect of Shared Decisionmaking on Patients’ Likelihood of Filing a Complaint or Lawsuit

A Simulation Study, Annals of Emergency Medicine, January 2019

Physicians should be aware that respectful and patient-centered communication may be medicolegally protective in the event of an adverse outcome.

Abstract

Study objective
Shared decisionmaking has been promoted as a method to increase the patient-centeredness of medical decisionmaking and decrease low-yield testing, but little is known about its medicolegal ramifications in the setting of an adverse outcome. We seek to determine whether the use of shared decisionmaking changes perceptions of fault and liability in the case of an adverse outcome.

Methods
This was a randomized controlled simulation experiment conducted by survey, using clinical vignettes featuring no shared decisionmaking, brief shared decisionmaking, or thorough shared decisionmaking. Participants were adult US citizens recruited through an online crowd-sourcing platform. Participants were randomized to vignettes portraying 1 of 3 levels of shared decisionmaking. All other information given was identical, including the final clinical decision and the adverse outcome. The primary outcome was reported likelihood of pursuing legal action. Secondary outcomes included perceptions of fault, quality of care, and trust in physician.

Results
We recruited 804 participants.

  • Participants exposed to shared decisionmaking (brief and thorough) were 80% less likely to report a plan to contact a lawyer than those not exposed to shared decisionmaking (12% and 11% versus 41%; odds ratio 0.2; 95% confidence interval 0.12 to 0.31).
  • Participants exposed to either level of shared decisionmaking reported higher trust, rated their physicians more highly, and were less likely to fault their physicians for the adverse outcome compared with those exposed to the no shared decisionmaking vignette.

Conclusion
In the setting of an adverse outcome from a missed diagnosis, use of shared decisionmaking may affect patients’ perceptions of fault and liability.

Doctors’ unconscious instinct to reciprocate med reps’ gifts

What Big Pharma knows about people’s hardwired instinct to return the favor when given a gift

Abstract

… “You might reasonably ask whether a modest meal with a pharmaceutical sales rep matters all that much. You might also be surprised by what a small gift can buy. In recent years, social psychologists and marketers have demonstrated that the pull of reciprocity is exceedingly powerful in human beings, often acting on us in ways we may not consciously appreciate. Perhaps it’s too much to suggest that free pens were responsible for the opioid epidemic. But it’s become more and more clear that a gift, even from a salesperson, can make the receiver feel obliged to give something in return.” …

Read Did Free Pens Cause the Opioid Crisis? on the atlantic, about the role of medical representatives in the promotion of pharmaceuticals in general, and the opioid crisis in particular.