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New Research Finds Link Between Drug Marketing And Opioid Overdoses

Image: creative commons
Image: creative commons

It appears there's a link between drug marketing and prescription drug overdoses. New research finds a troubling relationship between pharmaceutical company sales techniques and opioid deaths.

Researchers in Boston looked at a couple of federal databases to find county-by-county rates of pharmaceutical marketing budgets, how often drug reps interacted with doctors, the opioid prescription rates, and rates of prescription opioid deaths.

They found that where more drug marketing dollars were spent, more prescriptions were written and more opioid deaths appeared to follow.

The researchers also found the number of interactions between the drug reps and doctors had and even stronger link to deaths than the amount of money that was spent marketing.

That has potential policy implications. There have been efforts to limit how much doctors get paid by pharmaceutical companies. But it appears here that common, lower-budget interactions like sponsored dinners, may be more influential.

The research appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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