More than two thirds, or 69 percent, of consumers surveyed said they think drugmakers have too much influence on doctors' decisions about which drug to prescribe. Half of those polled said they feel doctors are too eager to prescribe a drug rather than consider alternate methods of managing a condition. And 47 percent said they think gifts from pharma companies influence doctors to prescribe certain drugs, with 41 percent saying they think doctors tend to prescribe newer, more expensive drugs.Consumers also told Consumer Reports they were wary of other payments and rewards the pharmaceutical industry gives to physicians. A whopping 81 percent said they are concerned about the rewards drugmakers give to doctors who write a lot of prescriptions for a company’s drugs. And 72 percent were displeased with payments pharmaceutical companies give to doctors for testimonials or for serving as a company spokesperson for a given drug.
Sixty-one percent of consumers voiced concern about pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to speak at industry conferences, while 58 percent were concerned by big drug companies buying meals for doctors and their staffs.
A better choice is asking your doctor or pharmacist if there's a less expensive generic version of your drug available, and 37 percent of those surveyed reported doing that.—Steve Mitchell, associate editor, Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drugs