And Speaking of Big Business…
OK I’m not even going to say anything until you read this:
Propublica is a great resource. It’s non-profit and has no industry or political affiliation. It doesn’t do local news or breaking news. It’s reporters spend hours, days, weeks, months on old-style investigative reporting. They have absolutely no reason to publish something they aren’t pretty darn sure is true.
Now, I thought, naively, that this issue about doctors and drug reps and monetary incentives for prescribing had been decently aired. I thought it was on it’s way to, if not resolution, at least to the level of people feeling ashamed of themselves. Apparently not. I wrote in my last post about the problems with oral diabetes medications and the newer, more expensive, dubiously beneficial compounds that have come out. Bystolic is a blood pressure medication and is another example of the newer-is-better school of drug-making.
The practice of paying doctors to talk about, promote, and prescribe drugs by drug companies absolutely has to stop. It’s a black mark on medicine. It reflects very poorly on physicians. It undermines our already tenuous hold on patient trust. It’s bad for the economic juggernaut that is American Medicine. It is wrong. The problem is not the drug companies. They are only doing what they know works. If these strategies didn’t sell drugs they wouldn’t bother. We doctors are absolutely responsible. It is inexcusable behavior. Our patients are paying for those lectures, that industry lunch, that thousand dollar dinner. Are doctors so poorly paid that they are swayed by a couple thousand bucks? Is it the thrill of lecturing to a crowd of peers? Is it the warm feeling you get when a well-dressed, attractive drug rep calls you “doctor” and caters to your every whim? Is it the free food? It’s ridiculous.
No doctor is going to SAY he writes prescriptions for something because of industry ties. Of course not. No doctor ADMITS to being influenced by such marketing. But again, if it didn’t work it wouldn’t happen. My friends and colleagues, please please just say no to this sort of thing. It makes me ashamed to call myself “doctor”.