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Conflict-of-Interest Policy Affects Prescribing Behavior

Last Updated: January 31, 2013.

Psychiatrists exposed to conflict-of-interest policies while completing their residency program are less likely to prescribe brand-name antidepressants after completion of their residency, according to research published in the February issue of Medical Care.

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Psychiatrists exposed to conflict-of-interest (COI) policies while completing their residency program are less likely to prescribe brand-name antidepressants after completion of their residency, according to research published in the February issue of Medical Care.

Andrew J. Epstein, Ph.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues used 2009 prescribing data from IMS Health to compare the prescribing behavior of 1,652 psychiatrists from 162 residency programs. The authors sought to determine whether exposure to COI policies during residency affected antidepressant prescribing behavior after training completion.

About half of the residents graduated in 2001, before COI training guidelines were implemented, and the remaining half graduated in 2008, after COI adoption. The researchers found that prescription rates for heavily promoted, brand-name, or reformulated antidepressant medications were lower for those graduating in 2008, after COI adoption, but were lowest for those programs with the most restrictive COI policies.

"In psychiatry, we found that physicians who were exposed to maximally restrictive COI policies during residency training had lower rates of prescribing heavily marketed antidepressants," the authors write. "Although physician-industry interactions may serve an important informational function, our results offer one piece of evidence that these COI policies have helped inoculate physicians against the persuasive aspects of pharmaceutical promotion."

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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