Norwegian Physicians’ Knowledge of the Prices of Pharmaceuticals: A Survey

Eriksen II, Melberg HO, Bringedal B. Published online in PLoS One 2013; Sep 11.

Eriksen II, Melberg HO, Bringedal B. PLoS One 2013; Sep 11;8(9):e75218e. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075218.

Article in English. Published by PLOS ONE – an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.

Abstract on PubMedThe objectives of this study are to measure physicians' knowledge of the prices of pharmaceuticals, and investigate whether there are differences in knowledge of prices between groups of physicians. This article reports on a survey study of physicians' knowledge of the prices of pharmaceuticals conducted on a representative sample of Norwegian physicians in the autumn of 2010. The importance of physicians' knowledge of costs derives from their influence on total spending and allocation of limited health-care resources. Physicians are important drivers in the effort to contain costs in health care, but only if they have the knowledge needed to choose the most cost-effective treatment options. A survey was sent to 1 543 Norwegian physicians, asking them for price estimates and their opinions on the importance of considering the cost of treatment to society as a decision factor when treating their patients. This article deals with a subsection in which the physicians were asked to estimate the price of five pharmaceuticals: simvastatin, alendronate (Fosamax), infliximab (Remicade), natalizumab (Tysabri) and escitalopram (Cipralex). The response rate was 65%. For all the five pharmaceuticals, more than 50% and as many as 83% gave responses that differed more than 50% from the actual drug price. The price of more expensive pharmaceuticals was underestimated, while the opposite was the case for less expensive medicines. The data show that physicians in general have poor knowledge of the prices of the pharmaceuticals they offer their patients. However, the physicians who frequently deal with a drug have better knowledge of its price than those who do not handle a medication as often. The data also suggest that those physicians who agree that cost of care to society is an important decision factor have better knowledge of drug prices.

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