Who your doctor's really working for
It's a matter of fact that docs who take cash from drug companies prescribe meds differently. OF COURSE they favor meds from the firms that pay them. OF COURSE they're more willing to use those drugs off-label. OF COURSE they're more likely to prescribe them willy-nilly.
But even if your doctor doesn't reveal who he's in bed with, his partner is going to have to fess up. Because under new disclosure rules kicking in next month, drug companies will be forced to reveal every payment and gift they make to docs.
That includes not just money for consulting and/or speaking on behalf of a drug, but it also includes those notorious travel and entertainment expenses -- like, say, an "informational session" held on a beach in Waikiki.
Even small expenses -- lunch with the doctor, or bagels for his receptionists -- will need to be reported.
New disclosures disclose too little
It's a step in the right direction, but you're still going to have to do your part. Because if you expect to see these disclosures where they might actually help you, like posted on the wall in the waiting room, you've got another thing coming.
Instead, they'll be put online in a government database, which means you'll have to look into your doctor BEFORE you see him -- quite a challenge if, say, you've been taken to the hospital and you're being treated by doctors you've never seen before.
In those cases, you'll still have to guess. You can start by looking at the logo on his pen. And that gives me an idea: Who says docs need to wear white jackets or scrubs anyway?
Let's give them some new attire: a jacket with the logos of all their corporate benefactors sewn into it.
It works for NASCAR drivers.
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About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
You can sign up for his "Daily Dose" at DouglassReport.com.