99 Problems and Your Doctor is One

Doctors are known to take money from pharmaceutical companies. These companies give doctors money to promote, not prescribe, the medication. Pharmaceutical companies have ways to get doctors to do this. Sales representatives are hired to convince doctors to use their company’s medication over the competitors. It is intended to be an educational experience for doctors informing them of the best medications available. Sales representatives have an array of tricks up their sleeves to convince doctors to promote their medication. One of these methods is food. They are allowed to bring modest meals to doctors while giving a presentation. They also can give gifts as long as they are not of substantial value, less than $100. Not only do they have sales representatives they also have doctors who help get other doctors to start prescribing a medication. Doctors can get paid to speak with other doctors about a medication. More often than not they are given a script. By using someone who is actually in the field, this makes the speech more effective.

The issue with a doctor taking pharmaceutical money is that it creates a conflict of interest. A doctor should always be focused on the best interest of the patient. However, often when doctors are promoting a medication they are more likely to prescribe it. Therefore, the focus can change from the patient to the doctor’s wallet. This makes patients wonder if their doctor actually has the best interest in mind.

As a part of the Affordable Care Act, the government started a website that shows exactly how much money a pharmaceutical company pays a doctor. This website has been up and running since 2013. All you have to do is type in your doctor’s name and then you can see how much money was received and who it was from. ProPublica also has a website that has the same function. This is so patients can be more informed about the possible intentions of their doctor. The doctors themselves still do not have to disclose this information. The only information that is on the website is directly from the pharmaceutical companies.

This has created mixed views among doctors. Some believe that a doctor should tell the patient if they are receiving money from drug companies. They feel that they have an ethical responsibility to do that. Even with that disclosure, some feel that it would make no change in the opinion of the patient. Some completely avoid the question which makes them seem oddly guilty. Some do not want their patients knowing at all.

The issue with pharmaceutical money is even though there are guidelines, they don’t always get followed. There have been many lawsuits that have come from pharmaceutical companies not following the rules. One of which involved a current presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. Pharmaceutical companies have been found guilty of promoting off label use. They have even been found bribing, known as giving kickbacks, to doctors to promote their medication. Next time you go to your doctor be an informed patient. Make sure that you get the care you deserve.

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