Numbers show link between drug company payments and how doctors write prescriptions
Kathleen McGroryKathleen McGrory, Times Staff Writer
March 17, 2016


ProPublica, based in New York City, describes itself as “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.”

Its analysis looked at about 150,000 doctors in five specialties: cardiovascular disease, family medicine, internal medicine, ophthalmology and psychiatry. More than 9,400 Florida doctors were included.

Overall, the analysis found that doctors who received any type of compensation from the industry — even meals alone — were at least two times as likely to prescribe brand-name drugs than those who didn’t. Those who received more than $5,000 from companies had the highest brand-name prescribing rates.

One psychiatrist, Dr. Ilan Melnick, of Coral Gables, received nearly $361,186 from drug companies in 2014, records show. More than a quarter of the drugs he prescribed that year were brand name — a higher-than-usual share for psychiatrists, according to the analysis.

Another psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth Pages in Tampa, was paid $211,927 by pharmaceutical companies in 2014. His brand-name prescribing rate was nearly 28 percent, ProPublica found.

Neither doctor returned calls from the Tampa Bay Times, which was provided an advance copy of ProPublica’s data.