Physicians push back against proposed cap on compensation

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

If you combine the number of deaths from murder and the number of deaths from traffic accidents, Attorney General Christopher Porrino told the room it would still be less than half the number of people who died of drug overdoses.

“So far in the second half of 2016, that the total number will well exceed 2,000,” said Porrino.

Porrino announced Thursday that they are seeking to revoke the license of a Warren County doctor who allegedly accepted more than $136,000 from drugmaker Insys while prescribing a powerful painkiller made by the company to people who didn’t meet federal standards.

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“… for promotional speaking engagements, service on advisory boards, food, beverages, travel and lodging,” said Porrino.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers gave $69 million to state doctors in 2016, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Two-thirds of that money, though, went to the top 300 of the 30,000 doctors listed in the data, showing that only a small number of doctors take advantage of this system.

Still, that’s enough for 80 percent of new heroin users to become addicted through the use of prescription painkillers. And that is why the attorney general says they have proposed new regulations. But one by one, medical professionals testified against the proposal as it stands.

“I would not want New Jersey physicians to not have the ability to have a voice,” said Dr. Andy Kaufman, a member of the NJ Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

“You need to understand the ramifications of what you’re going to do,” said Andrew N De La Torre, the director of Liver, Pancreas and Biliary Surgery at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

Under a proposed compensation cap, a prescriber would not be able to accept more than $10,000 in a year from manufacturers for things like presentations, participation in advisory boards and consulting arrangements.

Also, this proposal would only allow prescribers to accept “modest meals” capped at $15.

Medical Society of New Jersey CEO Lawrence Downs believes the regulations may have unintended consequences.

“By capping the compensation at $10,000, it might make the endeavor not worth it for the physician and many new discoveries would go undiscovered,” said Downs.

While the attorney general says they are open to suggestions, he says intent is to move forward with new rules. That’s because the goal is not to vilify the medical profession or pharmaceutical industry.

“But, there are exceptions, and those few can and have hurt many, many people,” said Porrino.