SPOTLIGHT: Oncologists use more profitable drugs

Oncologists are among the minority of physicians who make money by prescribing and dispensing drugs when they administer chemotherapy in their offices. There have long been accusations that this influences their practice patterns so that they maximize their incomes. Now an article in Health Affairs shows that, for the period 1995-8, while reimbursement levels apparently didn't impact the choice of whether to use chemotherapy or not, it did mean greater use of more expensive drugs. The unstated implication is that oncologists got better margins on those more expensive drugs. Oncologists, of course, dispute the findings, but in some ways the stable door has been bolted already, as Medicare changed the way it paid for chemotherapy drugs under Part B at the start of 2005. Article