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Invited Commentary |

Physician-Industry Interactions and Anti–Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Use Among US Ophthalmologists

Paul R. Lichter, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, W. K. Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(8):903-904. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.1794.
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In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, Taylor et al1 have used the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payments program 2013 database, which provides mandatory reporting data from companies on payments they make to physicians, and the CMS 2013 Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File in an innovative manner to assess the putative effect on drug use of payments from Genentech and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to physicians targeted to those companies’ specific anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs. Specifically, the authors compared physicians’ use of ranibizumab and aflibercept with their use of bevacizumab for intravitreous injections. They found that pharmaceutical industry financial incentives to physicians, obviously given to influence prescribing behavior, are strongly correlated with that behavior, namely, prescribing the most expensive anti-VEGF drugs for intravitreous injection when a far less expensive alternative is equally effective. Although the authors were unable to attribute cause and effect to their findings, it makes sense that cause and effect may well exist.

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