Direct-to-physician opioid marketing by pharmaceutical companies is widespread and may contribute to opioid overprescribing, an important driver of the US opioid crisis. Using a difference-in-differences approach and Medicare Part D prescriber data, we examined the effects of academic medical centers’ conflict-of-interest policies that restrict direct-to-physician marketing of all drugs on opioid prescribing by physicians at eighty-five centers in the period 2013–16. We examined restrictions on gifts and meals, speaking and consulting engagements, and industry representatives’ access to academic medical centers, as well as rules requiring conflict-of-interest disclosures. Bans on sales representatives were associated with a 4.7 percent reduction in the total volume of opioids prescribed and disclosure requirements with a 2.5 percent reduction, while having all four marketing restriction policies was associated with an 8.8 percent reduction. Policies that restrict direct-to-physician pharmaceutical marketing may curb opioid prescribing, but additional patient-level research is needed to understand how such policies affect the delivery of evidence-based treatment for chronic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy