The Tyler Group
Posted in the Financial Services Forum
#1 Jul 9, 2013
The Tyler Group: Real Medicine, Big pharma and greedy doctors
How does one explain an internist who wrote more than 900 prescriptions for the controversial and very expensive drug Lovaza, a drug approved to lower triglycerides, or a geriatric doctor who is the top prescriber of a very expensive heart medication known as Ranexa, or a cardiologist who neglects the less costly and generic statins, and presribes mostly Crestor, a very effective but also very costly drug, or just about any top prescriber of Tarka, an expensive blood pressure medication that combines two generic medications that can be purchased for pennies, into a brand drug that costs around $4.50 a pill (something I discussed in a previous article “Drug Dealing For Big Pharma”)?
The answer is simple and unsurprising — greed. It’s all about putting more money in the pockets of doctors and the coffers of the big pharmaceutical companies, but it is finally being exposed. Probublica,“an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” petitioned under the Freedom of Information Act and obtained records for Medicare’s popular prescription-drug plan Part D. ProPublica has now made public on their website the names of prescribers and the drugs they chose to prescribe to their patients.
Consider this: I am a busy cardiologist and I wrote about 1,500 Medicare scripts in 2010, but a cardiologist practicing in New York City’s Chinatown, wrote 21,000!
How is that possible? How can one person write 1,400% more prescriptions than me?
And not by coincidence, he was a top prescriber for one my least favorite drugs, Bystolic, a costly blood pressure medication that competes with generics that cost pennies per pill. Perhaps not by coincidence, he happened to give paid lectures for the company, Forest Labs, that sells Bystolic. Even more troubling is that he was a top prescriber of a drug known as Multaq, a very controversial and also costly drug, used to treat arrhythmias.
I suggest that anyone interested — lay or professional — check out the Prescriber Checkup on the Propublica site. Buried in the data you’ll find a physician, Rohan Wijetlaka, who was arrested last year for essentially selling prescriptions of narcotics, especially oxycodone. It’s easy to see that while his peers, on average, prescribed narcotics to about 4% of their Medicare patients, he prescribed, or as it turns out sold and prescribed, narcotics to 31% of his patients — and he’s a cardiologist. I guess those type of numbers were a big enough red flag to alert the DEA who pounced on him in July of 2012.
And yet there is another physician listed as a cardiologist, a Dr.(initials) V.P., who, according to this site, prescribed narcotics for 36% of her Medicare patients. If the data are correct, you have to wonder if she is being investigated, and if not, why?
For the past two days I have hurried home after work to review this data and found the same outcome — if a doctor wrote a lot of prescriptions for an expensive drug, he was usually a paid speaker for the drug company! Apparently, a simple and disgusting, quid pro quo.
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