Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why is My Doctor Prescribing This Medication? Bet You Thought Kickbacks Were For the Sleazy!

Does the aroma of pizza waft through your doctor's waiting room, driving you crazy because you're fasting for blood-work?  It could be a form of kickback from a company that sells pharmaceuticals or medical devices.  photo courtesy Jon Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever gone to the doctor and seen that man or woman in a suit, and often with a briefcase, waiting to see the doctor?  Worse yet, do they always seem to get in to see the doctor only moments after arriving, despite the fact that you and other patients have been waiting to see the same doctor an hour or more!!

Worse yet -- when you finally get in to see the doctor after fasting for several hours in preparation for a blood test -- does the smell of a hot pizza make you even hungrier?  All these scenarios have happened to me -- and even all at the same time, while waiting to see my doctor.   Have you ever wondered who those suited-up people are, who seem to get priority over us dumb but patient and sometimes-starving medical consumers.

Read this article from Mediguard which backs up what I am saying.  Furthermore, the next time you are in your doctor's office look around at the notepads, clips, magnets and other little office goodies with the logos of medical device and pharmaceutical companies.  These bring back memories of the little amenities with the cute Cayman Airways "Sir Turtle" logo I used to throw at my travel agents.  "Get the name in front of them and they will book us", advised my mentor Winston ad nauseam.  Medical reps work the same way -- they are no more sacred than representatives of any other company.  They are rated, reviewed and keep their jobs according to prescriptions written in the regions they cover.

Am I telling you what you already know?  What's a little notepad or a pizza between representative and doctor?  Can it be true that doctors get kickbacks? Will that little magnet or that pizza really induce a doctor to write a prescription? Studies show that the answer is "yes" and the article I linked above, also points out that the amount of kickbacks -- oops compensation -- to doctors who actually see patients, may be higher than you ever imagined and can even induce a doctor to do less than what's best for patients because they sense a need for reciprocity.  That's how sales and promotions work, even in the medical world which we are somehow programmed to think is less sleazy than the "real world". Yes, kickbacks are not just for the skanky among us.

Finally, why should you know this and what can you do with this information ?  I say it again and again -- question your doctor when s/he prescribes a new medication .  Ask questions like "why are you prescribing this?", "what are side effects?" and the ever-important "Is there a less-expensive generic version?"  I have shared in this blog that there are doctors who resent these questions [I had a doctor who said "when you graduate from med school, you can question me"].  Any doctor who refuses to answer these types of questions, deserves to be changed.  When you get home, read anything you can, about the new medication.  Don't hesitatetate to take up the doctor's precious time because your life is just as precious.  If the doctor seems to give you the bum's rush, remind her that her pizza or fried chicken can be reheated in the office microwave.

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