New research confirms what you and I already suspected, Big Pharma is still bribing doctors to sling their products… and it’s still working.
In fact, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine it doesn’t even take a fancy, expensive meal to convince docs to start writing out prescriptions for pricey brand name drugs. According to researchers a measly $20 pizza lunch delivered to their office could even do the trick.
Docs TWICE as likely to prescribe a drug after a food bribe
And we’re talking a whole lot of influence for very little effort. Doctors who chow down on a drug company’s dime are twice as likely as docs who say no thanks to prescribe an expensive brand name drug instead of an affordable generic version.
It’s not a fluke either, because the prescribing climbs with the cost of the meal.
Hm, that quarter of a billion bucks Big Pharma is spending every year on feeding doctors is starting to make a heck of a lot of sense, isn’t it? And of course the study didn’t even begin to dig into other payouts such as gifts, vacations and payments to participate in “studies.”
Brand name drugs can cost you a LOT more out of pocket
Now if you’re thinking it doesn’t matter to you if your doc prescribes one drug over another, I get it. But here’s the thing, those prescriptions for brand name drugs are taking more money out of your wallet.
Generic copays are typically FAR cheaper than brand name ones. Some generics even run as low as $1, while their brand name counterparts can easily cost you $40 bucks or more.
That could put a hurting on any of our finances, but seniors on fixed incomes can be hit particularly hard. A senior may find herself being forced to make a decision about whether or not to buy food or her meds for the week.
And if you have a few different prescriptions to fill—which is quite common as we age—that could be positively devastating to your bank account.
How to find out if your doc’s taking Big Pharma handouts
But enough doom and gloom. I’m all about solutions, and boy do I have a good one for you today. Modern life isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, but one good thing it has brought us is the ability to check up on our doctors to find out which ones are readily accepting drug company handouts.
I’ll have more details on how to do that in a moment
But your first step is to take a critical look around your doctor’s office. Is everything you see from the pen you’re handed to write with, to the clipboard your paperwork is attached to, branded with a drug name?
If so, this is red flag that your doc is happy to accept free swag from drug reps… including those free lunches… and that he’s probably far more likely to push their products as a result.
Which brings us to step number two.
Dollars for Docs reveals how much money docs have accepted
Listen, I firmly believe that when you decide to hire a doctor it should be like any other service you pay for, you should be able to check on the reputation of the guy or gal performing that service. That’s where checking on drug company payouts comes in.
You see, the drug companies are currently required to report all payments they make to doctors (although doctors and the industry want to see that restriction go away). And there are publicly accessible databases where you can look up this information.
My favorite is Pro Publica’s “Dollars for Docs” website. It’s easy to use. Pay them a visit and look up your own doctor to see how many Big Pharma gifts he’s accepted.
A lunch here or there might not matter because, to be honest, very few doctors will not have accepted some sort of a handout here and there. But if you see a pattern of him taking payouts or gifts month after month it might be time to find yourself a new doctor. Or, at the very least, to make a practice out of asking for generic versions of any drugs you are prescribed.
Written in memory of medicine's most popular myth-buster, Dr. William Campbell Douglass II the "Daily Dose" is a FREE daily e-mail service designed to deliver health news and insights directly to your inbox.
In the "Daily Dose" you get Harrison’s no holds barred straight scoop about health, medicine and politics. In it he exposes junk medicine, flawed science, big-government waste and fraud — providing a continuous supply of urgent and timely health information.
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