Bottom Line: This study examined the association between pharmaceutical company marketing of opioids to physicians and subsequent death from prescription opioid overdoses across U.S. counties. The study, which analyzed industry marketing information data and national data on opioid prescribing and overdose deaths, reports almost $40 million in opioid marketing was targeted to more than 67,500 physicians across more than 2,200 counties from August 2013 to December 2015. Increases in opioid marketing to physicians were associated with higher prescribing rates and subsequently more death from prescription opioid overdoses a year later in this analysis. This observational study can show only associations, not causation. Findings suggest opioid marketing to physicians may counter national efforts to reduce the number of opioids prescribed and policymakers might consider limits on those activities.
Authors: Scott E. Hadland, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthors
Editor’s Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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