There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
It’s an old saying, but the latest research finds it’s true when it comes to your doctor… because he can be bought for the price of lunch!
We’re not even talking steak tartare at the Four Seasons, either. Just a Grand Slamwich at Denny’s might be enough to do the trick, because the new study finds that a single low-cost meal — even if the value is less than $20, like sending some pizza to the doctor’s office — is enough to influence their prescribing habits.
Docs who feed at the Big Pharma trough are TWICE as likely to push pricey name-brand drugs over cheap generics when compared to physicians who don’t bite the bait.
The more they eat on Big Pharma’s dime, the more they’ll prescribe name-brand drugs. And docs who get multiple meals are THREE TIMES more likely, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
And the more expensive the meals, the more prone docs are to pushing those meds, according to the study of Medicare data.
No wonder Big Pharma spends nearly a quarter BILLION bucks on meals for docs every year.
This isn’t just more profit for Big Pharma. It means more money out of your pocket — because while generic copays are as low as $1 a pop, name-brand drugs can cost $40 or more.
And if you’re a senior trying to squeeze by on a limited income, and you’re taking multiple meds, it adds up fast. Soon, you might have to make cuts to your personal budget to pay for pills.
That means more food in your doc’s mouth could mean less food in yours!
The researchers say this is more proof Big Pharma should be blocked from buying off docs, even for little things like meals.
Of course docs and the industry are fighting tooth and nail against any effort to stop or even limit this shameless petty bribery.
Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands here, because it’s easier than ever to check on your doc to see if he’s on the take.
First, you can look around the office. If everything from the clocks to the wastebasket have some kind of drug branding on them, odds are he’s playing “Wheel of Fortune” with Big Pharma.
And second, you can look around online. Big Pharma is now required to report all payments to docs, and there are databases where you can check on your own physician to see how much he takes and from who.
A great place to start is Pro Publica’s Dollars for Docs website, which you can find right here.