Industry documents that have emerged in a federal civil lawsuit in Boston show that big drugmakers sometimes calculated to the penny the profits that doctors could make from their drugs, The New York Times reports. And sales reps shared those profit estimates with doctors and their staffs, the documents show.
In one PowerPoint presentation from 2000, a Bristol-Myers Squibb executive told employees that oncologistsâ€™ biggest concern was â€œReimbursement Today, Reimbursement Tomorrow, Reimbursement!â€ The documents were filed in a lawsuit in federal court in Boston by patients and insurers who claim they were overcharged for cancer meds.
As the price of cancer drugs skyrocketed during the 1990s, docs suddenly found huge income streams. A Bristol-Myers document from 2001 shows that oncologists made about 65 percent of their revenue, and a similar percentage of their net income, on drug profits. Could the promise of large profits have influenced prescribing habits? Many docs always insist it's not possible.
But Bob Geller, an oncologist who now works for the biotech, tells the paper that "itâ€™s clear that physicians stopped making decisions based on what made scientific or clinical sense in lieu of what made better business sense.â€