According to a study from the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada, sales reps visits to their respective medical centers drove up sales of stenting procedures performed between 2008 and 2009 by an average of $250 more per case.
The study focused on drug-eluting stents versus bare-metal stents. The spike in cost to the patient, from an average of $1468 to $1703 was strongly positively correlated with the presence of the sales representative.
The researchers found that drug-eluting stents were used in about 56 percent of procedures when a sales representative was at the hospital, compared to about 51 percent of procedures when no representative was present. Some researchers and analysts attribute this spike in costs to new discoveries and developments in stenting technologies emerging between 2008 and 2009, rather than solely the result of the presence of medical device sales representatives.
After the results of this study, however, “most academic centers… have [adopted] very tight rules and regulations governing these activities,” said Dr. Theodore Bass, president of The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, in a recent article. The new regulations aim to limit the influence sales reps have with the physician’s recommendation of the type of stint the patient opts to be used in future procedures.