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Is there a link between company perks and doctors' prescriptions?

Though abusing prescription painkillers is against the law in Colorado, opioid addiction remains a major health crisis here. Indeed, it’s a nationwide problem, as millions of Americans struggle with addiction to these powerful drugs.

There are many reasons for this epidemic, but a troubling new study suggests one factor could be the financial influence drug companies have over doctors -- especially here in Colorado.

Troubling doctor-drug company study

The study, discussed here by KUSA-TV, is based on public records of the $46 million pharmaceutical companies spent on American doctors from 2013 to 2015. Amazingly, fully 10 percent of that spending was on Colorado docs alone.

These companies manufacture opioids like hydrocodone. So it’s perhaps no coincidence that doctors who get free meals, educational opportunities and other perks from drug companies are more likely to prescribe drugs made by those firms. With doctors in this state getting so much money, it seems likely that this practice contributed to Colorado’s spike in opioid-related deaths in 2014, when 338 people died.

Check on your doctor

Paying for things for doctors is common practice in the pharmaceutical industry, and just because your doctor has gotten an occasional perk, it doesn’t mean he’s putting the drug companies’ profits above your health. But in some cases, doctors have received more than $100,000 in gifts, KUSA reports. A government website available here lets you search records of payments your doctor has received, if any.

Opioids and the law

Sometimes doctors get arrested for illegally distributing prescription drugs. But more often it’s the addicted patients who end up facing criminal charges. It is critical that anyone who been arrested, charged or investigated for drug possession get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

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