Dutch doctors more often prescribe drugs from pharmaceuticals who sponsor them: study

Pills (Photo: MorgueFile / Wikimedia Commons)Pills (Photo: MorgueFile / Wikimedia Commons)

Doctors and medical specialists in the Netherlands more often prescribe more expensive drugs if the drugs are from the pharmaceutical company that pays their sponsorship money, according to a study done by the Volkskrant and health insurer VGZ. 

According to the newspaper, many foreign studies already established a link between sponsorship and medicine prescriptions, but this is the first time such a study is done in the Netherlands as prescription information is not public information in the country. For this study, VGZ made the prescription information for four new drugs available.

The study found that the new diabetes drug Toujeo is more popular with doctors who received money from the pharmaceutical company responsible for the medicine over the past two years. Of the sponsored doctors, 52 percent prescribed Tojeo, compared to 19 percent of non-sponsored doctors. The same trend can be seen for the diabetes medicine Tresiba - sponsored doctors prescribed it to an average of 14 patients, while non-sponsored doctors did so for an average of five. Cholesterol drugs Repatha and Praluent are prescribed three to four times as often by sponsored doctors.

According to the Federation of Medical Specialists, while these figures are statistically significant, the relationship between sponsorship and prescription behavior is not exactly hard evidence of doctors being influenced by pharmaceuticals. Therefore no conclusions can be drawn, as spokesperson said to the Volkskrant.