Medical Communication Companies’ Hidden Role

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December 27th, 2013

Medical Communication CompaniesMedical Communication Companies (MCCs) commonly sit in the background of today’s healthcare landscape, quietly going about their business and providing relatively anonymous services for patients and providers.

However, their role remains highly important and has a great affect on one of healthcare’s most debated topics – COST.

MCC’s have become one of the most significant but least analyzed healthcare stakeholders. A Medical Communication Company is often recognized for acting as vendors of educational information on behalf of drug and device manufacturers nationwide. They are most commonly known for the administration of a variety of marketing, promotional and informational campaigns such as Continued Medical Education (CMEs) programs. Working with physicians, providers, and medical facilities, MCCs play a big part in distributing pharmaceuticals and medical devices throughout the US.

Medical Communication Companies and Industry Grants

In the December issue of JAMA, it was reported that MCCs have been on the receiving end of multiple incentives from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers for promoting their products amongst their network of providers.

It was reported that throughout 2010, drug and device companies awarded over $650 million in incentives, shared amongst 6,500 recipients. $170 million (26%) of those incentives were awarded directly to almost 350 MCCs. Medical Communication Companies received the largest share of the incentives, followed by academic medical centers, professional associations, and research organizations.

Of the 350 Medical Communication Companies rewarded for their efforts, 18 of the top MCCs captured almost $100 million of the $170 million awarded in incentives. Many were rewarded for conducting CMEs, developing branding campaigns, tracking website behavior, and sharing information with 3rd party companies.

Providers and medical facilities are often unaware of these data sharing relationships and the roles MCCs play with drug and device companies. 10 of the 18 MCCs mentioned in the report claimed to have shared personal information with 3rd party partners.

Medical Communication Companies were originally introduced as an educational component of the healthcare landscape. They have now become key players in determining costs and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and have a large amount of control over the price and quality of care that is being provided.

The key to ensuring MCCs do not take advantage of their promotional powers is in educating patients on the alternative drugs or devices available. As a result, healthcare costs can be contained and patients will no longer waste money on over-priced medicines or implants, receive inappropriate or unnecessary care, and be administered harmful pharmaceuticals or below-par devices.

Patients and providers looking to learn more about the role of MCCs or wanting to protect themselves from the harmful side effects of these financial relationships should subscribe to our blog here or visit our website.