Pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc. paid more than $20 million to 191,555 doctors from August 2013 to December 2015 to promote its testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel, according to ProPublica’s Dollars for Doc’s analysis. AndroGel is a top-selling drug for AbbVie.
In June, the company – along with other testosterone manufacturers – will face trial in the first of more than 5,500 lawsuits pending in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging testosterone supplement makers aggressively marketed the treatments but failed to warn about cardiovascular risks with use of the hormones.
In total, AbbVie paid $94.1 million to 92,095 doctors to promote dozens of its products, including the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira and hepatitis C drug Viekira.
ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit news watchdog, compiles Dollars for Docs, a database listing payments to doctors and teaching hospitals from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. The database includes general payments for services such as promotional speaking, consulting, meals, travel and royalties. The database does not include research payments or physicians’ ownership stakes in companies. The information was made available under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
“Our analysis found that most doctors take payments, and that doctors who receive payments are, on average, more likely to prescribe a higher percentage of brand-name drugs,” ProPublica said.