Conflict of Interest or Education??

I’m stuck on this issue because it’s so pervasive and there has been a number of media and medical studies recently published that show the inappropriate relationship between physicians and drug companies.

The following is from the Washington Post article cited above:

“A quarter receive honoraria or some form of payment for their services, and that was much higher than we expected.”

“Drug companies also purchase prescription records from pharmacies and, with the help of an American Medical Association database, identify individual physicians’ prescribing patterns and rank doctors based on how many prescriptions they write, the authors wrote.

The tactics work. Another study in PLoS Medicine last week found that visits by detailers prompted nearly half of 97 physicians to increase prescriptions of gabapentin, a drug approved to treat seizures.”

It’s fascinating to watch the pie of health care expenditures enlarge and observe the various players working to get a bigger slice. Drug companies are really amazing at this, charging confiscatory prices (as much as $30,000-$60,000/Year) for new drugs and mobilizing an amazingly effective sales force.

Physicians seem to play the mundane role of tools in the game. Finding their percent share of the pie, represented as fees for service, declining, they work on other sources of funding and sell their services to PHARMA. Not an edifying picture of the profession.

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