I thought everyone might like to read this article by Dr. David Brownstein. When I ran across it last night, I could just see it for a minute and then it took me to a page that said, "this page does not exist". That made it even more interesting to me. Of course, we all know(on this forum) about the bribes and payoffs but we might want to inform others.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Big Pharma Cartel's Payoff
Over half of the United States’ medical residency programs in internal medicine accepted financial support from the Big Pharma Cartel. While accepting this money, 75% of the residency directors found accepting the aid “not acceptable.”[i]
After graduating medical school, new doctors are required to undergo residency training where they are taught how to practice medicine by more senior physicians. It is a time for growth and learning for the new doctors.
A survey was conducted in 2006 and 2007 which found the Big Pharma Cartel paid for educational materials in 83% of the programs that accepted money. Furthermore, in those programs that took aid, the Big Pharma Cartel paid for meals in 90% and office supplies in 68% of the programs surveyed.
I remember my residency well. Anytime there was a Pharma Cartel-sponsored meal, I and my colleagues did not miss it. We never thought we were being influenced by the perk, but we were. Studies have shown that small gifts such as pens or meals can influence a doctor’s prescribing pattern. Think about it; do you really think the Big Pharma Cartel would spend millions of dollars per year paying for doctors’ meals if they were not influencing prescribing patterns? Of course not.
The most interesting part of the survey was that 72% of the residency directors felt Big Pharma Cartel financing was not desirable. However, most still took the money.
Looking back on it, of course Big Pharma’s presence at nearly every one of our lunches and many of our dinners was, most certainly, influencing us. They gave us pens, paper, books, stethoscopes and other items. I clearly remember hearing about a drug from a Pharma representative and trying it out with the next patient. I trusted that this industry-paid representative was telling the truth. Now, I regret using those medications on my patients. I should have studied those medications further before using them. I was being influenced and I didn't even know it. When I think back on it, I am amazed at how cheaply Big Pharma influenced us--with pens and paper. To top it off, Big Pharma-sponsored meals were never that good anyways (full of refine carbs and soda).
Unfortunately, nothing much has changed today. Big Pharma Cartel sales people can not give out as many items as in the past, but they still sponsor meals and still influence prescribing patterns. If the AMA was really looking for a way to improve medical decision making they should be looking to ban the practice of Big Pharma Cartel representatives going to doctors offices as well as ban any Big Pharma-sponsored meals and events. Perhaps if Big Pharma Cartel was spending less money trying to woo doctors, the price of prescription medications would go down (I won’t hold my breath for that one).
What can you do? Make sure your doctor is not being influenced by the Big Pharma Cartel. If you see a line of Pharma drug representatives trying to see the doctor, your antennae should go up. Ask the doctor how much he knows about the medication he/she is going to prescribe you and how long has the medication been available. Generally, newer medications have not been appropriately studied for adverse effects. If you are prescribed a new medication, consider using an older medication if it is appropriate for your condition. Better yet, try and use safe and effective natural therapies to avoid using pharmaceuticals, if possible.
[i] New York Times. 2.22.10