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Does Your Doctor Get Money From Big Pharma?

Big Pharma paying doctors and hospitals
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10 Big Pharma firms paid more than $76-million last year to doctors, hospitals but reasons for payments not revealed.

Does Your Doctor Get Money From Pharmaceutical Companies to Prescribe Drugs to You? Have you seen this headline before? A Canadian publication teaches us that many in medicine are being paid handsomely, for reasons they don’t know, to prescribe, prescribe, prescribe. Of course, these “pay-outs” are likely considerably higher in the USA. I’d like to preface this blog by telling you that sometimes a drug may be very beneficial to you when prescribe appropriately, a topic that I believe requires much more attention.

Headlines like these used to bother me, but I find I’m not nearly as bothered today. I don’t have a doctor, but if I did, this is a question that I might feel comfortable bringing up with him/her if I felt pressured into taking their drugs. “Why are you always trying to get me on statin drugs?” This question begs two responses. The doctor might say, “because high blood fats lead to cardiovascular problems and I want to help you stay alive!” This is a response on par with their educational beliefs. More on par with their financial needs, however, might yield this response; “because I just invested $200,000 into the pharmaceutical company that makes a new statin drug so I’ll be putting many of my patients on it so I can profit from the investment.” Or, perhaps more humbly, “a drug maker just paid me $3,500 to lecture about one of their statin drugs.” Is that payment OK for we patients, or is this doctor now duty-bound to prescribe more of their drugs in return?  This headline really makes me lean toward the latter response, and I don’t like that I feel this way!

Most importantly, I want you to know that it has taken a close friend of mine decades to finally get me to concede that it was never the drug makers or the doctor’s job to get you to take medicines. You paid to see a medical doctor and willingly took that medication (as was evidenced when you swallowed the first pill). Prescribing medicines is what doctors learn to do in their medical training, and they do it very, very well!  It is their belief that they are doing us a favor, and perhaps even saving our lives by prescribing drugs to us. I’ve opted out thus far, but 200,000,000 of you have not.

Today I find myself relaxing a bit when I watch drug ad after drug ad on TV. Drug companies are capitalistic billion-dollar businesses. They regularly train our doctors to prescribe their wares because their own studies, accountants and statisticians tell them that their approach is working in every way. The average doctor sees drug companies as conduits in keeping us healthy. Sadly reliable sources teach us that millions of us are adversely affected each year by taking their wares, but that is often consider “the price we must pay” to keep the others healthy.

Armed with this information, the onus is on you, not your doctor or a drug company, to make certain that you need the medication being prescribed and that you’ve fully searched for a safer alternative, be it a diet change or an herb with similar properties or received a 2nd opinion. Doctor’s must see many patients like you per day, but you must watch out for only one…. you!

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