Great editorial in NYTimes

The New York Times published a great editorial supporting a ban on much of the lavish treatment that doctors get from drug reps. If adopted by medical schools, restrictions would include:

  • Ban on personal gifts, industry-supplied foods and meals, free travel (not reimbursed for services), and payment for attending industry-sponsored meetings
  • Ban on ghostwriting, the practice of drug companies drafting an article and then getting a doc to slap his or her name on it making it look at though the doc actually wrote it
  • Drug samples would have to be submitted to a central pharmacy not individual doctors

The restrictions, however, end there. The editorial says the proposal goes far but not far enough.

Patients need to be assured that their doctors are prescribing what’s best for them, not what’s best for companies.

Can someone get a doctor to read this?

2 thoughts on “Great editorial in NYTimes

  1. My doctor recently moved to another office. The old office was ran by this money-hungry, greedy doctor would would do much of what this editorial talks about. The office was covered in free “stuff” from the pharm companies. Tissue boxes, containers, posters, bed sheets, etc. all with company logos. Even the tongue depressors were sponsored by some pharm company. He pushed so many drugs on my husband and I that we decided to switch to our current doctor. The guy literally put my husband on six different prescriptions in one day on top of one he was already taking. They were all the latest “greatest” drugs on the market. The doctor we go to now doesn’t do that stuff. He doesn’t push any drugs on us. In fact he lets me take free samples of medicine so I don’t have to pay the pharm companies anything. I’ve been living on free samples for a couple years now.

  2. Some of these regulations are fine, but as BPD noted above, discontinuing free samples to doctors will have devastating effects to millions of mentally ill people. Millions! Our insurance companies and Medicare do not cover many, many psychiatric medications. My psychiatrist and I have been fighting with my Medicare Part D company for 18 months to get approval for one of my most important meds. Having someone in an office in Washington decide which meds I should be ALLOWED to take, based on cost, is a much larger problem than whether a drug rep brings my doc a bagel. If it weren’t for my doc’s free samples, and her willingness to use them, I would have been seriously ill and non-functional for the past 18 months! But, hey, Medicare would have been happy, even though it would have cost them $1000 per day for my inpatient hospital bed versus $350 per month for the drug in question. HUH?
    People with mental illness are often the least able to afford the cost of their medications, and psychiatrists likely give out more samples than any other medical professionals for THAT reason–not because they got free coffee.
    If we make a blanket policy denying doctors access to these samples, the cost of healthcare is going to skyrocket as more and more people end up in emergency rooms and inpatient wards.
    The MDs are not the villians. If mental health were covered as other illnesses are covered, there would be no need for free samples. I think it is a rare MD who bases his prescritions on who provides him with the best trinkets. Let’s give them some credit for their education and compassion and for going into a poorly compensated, thankless, difficult profession.

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