The Sacred BIG PHARMA/Patient Relationship

Billy Tauzin was a Republican representative from Louisiana who on leaving congress immediately became a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. He had a conference call the other day. As noted in The Treatment (TNR’s health care blog)

“PhRMA still has its own, very specific notions of what reform should look like. Giving everybody insurance? Sure, that’s great. Applying more scrutiny to effective treatments–a move most experts would argue is essential for bringing the cost of health care under control? Um, not so much.”

“He also said that reform should not interfere with the “wonderful, uniquely American experience in which doctors and patients make their decisions about health care.”

Medicynical note: By wonderfully unique, is Billy referring to the practice of the pharmaceutical industry providing salaries, gifts, and stipends to researchers, and doctors presumably to in some way influence their treatment recommendations and decisions? Or the relationship the industry has with pharmacies that allows it to monitor physicians’ prescribing behavior? Or is it the industry’s direct to patient advertising that doesn’t mention cost, alternatives, or outcomes. And manages to bury the most horrific toxicity in disclosures that only a medical professional could fully understand.

The formerly ethical pharmaceutical industry also collects information about people online without disclosing that they will use the information to recommend drug treatments. See article about RealAge (NY Times ).

“Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease – and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.”

Maybe Billy was talking about the sacred BIG PhRMA patient relationship–so much for doctors.

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