You’d like to think that there’s no financial gain that could influence your doc’s treatment decisions when it comes to your health.
And your doc wants you to believe that he has your best interest at heart…and that, under oath, he’ll do everything he can to help you when you’re sick without doing you any harm.
Well, my friend, new research shows that cash payments and other prizes from Big Pharma absolutely have a direct impact on what treatment your doctor offers you.
And it doesn’t even take much: Just $5,000 measly dollars can heavily influence your doc.
In 2014, internists who collected at least $5K from drug companies prescribed pricey name-brand meds over cheap generics at a rate 50 percent higher than docs who didn’t deal in dirty drug dollars.
The rates are pretty much higher across the board. In family practice, the rate jumps by nearly a third, while cash payments increase the rate of name-brand drug prescriptions by about a quarter among cardiologists.
Even shrinks and ophthalmologists prescribe more name-brand drugs when they’re being paid off.
The money is sometimes cold, hard cash in the form of “consulting fees” and “teaching fees.” In others, it’s paid-for trips to conferences to Palm Beach and Maui.
And in some cases, it doesn’t even take $5K to win over a doc. Just treating them to the occasional catered lunch will influence their prescription drug habits, according to the ProPublica analysis.
Now, if you’re wondering whether your doc is driven by the desire to heal or the greed of the pharmaceutical game, there are several ways to check if he’s in Big Pharma’s pocket.
First, take a look around his clinic. If everything is branded with some drug or other, odds are he’s quite friendly with his drug reps. He may as well have a PFIZER tattoo on his rear at that point.
Second, when the guy prescribes you a drug, ask him: Do you have a stake in this thing?
If that’s too confrontational for you, try searching for your doc’s name on Pro Publica’s handy Dollars for Docs website, which has a full list of payments from drug companies to doctors.
You can also search the federal government’s Open Secrets website, which has a database of payments.
The one downside is that it lists reported payments; and while all payments and cash equivalents are supposed to be reported, that’s not always what happens in practice.
And, as always, whether your doc’s on the take or not, do your own homework and investigate any med he wants to give you. In some cases, you might not need a drug at all… and in others, you might be able to try a natural alternative instead.
Of course, don’t fly solo on this; work with your doc (hopefully he’s not the take) and make drug choices a discussion… not an order.