Pharmaceuticals are a big business in the States. They are still one of the only jurisdictions that allow for drug advertisements on TV and in those commercials you always hear that soothing friendly voice telling you to ask your doctor about some condition or another and if this blue pill is right for you.
So it’s no surprise that some doctors are taking talking gigs from big pharmaceutical companies to push their new medication. And they’re paying big bucks.
But I doubt the majority of people have any clue that their doctor might have a vested interest in what drugs they prescribe so it was a shocker when I read the stories from Propublica detailing just how closely pharmaceuticals are involved with doctors.
Propublica points out that “Whistleblower lawsuits in recent years have accused the firms of using doctors to push their pills for unapproved uses during dinner talks” which undermines the whole point of testing and studying treatments.
This story is like a narative for why for-profit healthcare is a bad idea and why ‘Obamacare’ is so controversial right now in the States. Your wellbeing shouldn’t be a money maker for the people who provide care for you, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and especially doctors.
But then you get an account from a doctor who says that the media makes a bigger fuss about the conflicts of interest than patients and that if a doctor isn’t tied to a pharmaceutical company they likely aren’t a leader in their field and patients should perhaps look for a new doctor.
It’s the role of news organisations to point out why it’s a bad idea to have companies making a profit off of patients because it leads to the abuse of those who are most vulnerable when they are sick.