Insurers give doctors 'kickbacks' for prescribing generic drugs

We all know how the pharmaceutical industry tries to get doctors to prescribe brand-name drugs even though a generic is available, for their own profit. But what about the flip-side of that problem: when insurers give doctors a portion of their savings from generic drugs?

The AMA has defined these incentives as kickbacks and warned doctors last year that they could face both criminal and civil liability under federal statutes if they accept the incentives. And several states are thinking about passing laws to provide greater scrutiny of these practices by insurers.

However, is it the same problem? Insurers claim that they are not forcing doctors to do anything, but simply encouraging them to keep costs down. They also say that patients sometimes won't take brand-name drugs regularly because of the cost. So who has the right of it? Are these kickbacks, or just incentives?

To learn more about this problem:
- read this Associated Press piece