Each and every poster is provided by a drug or medical device manufacturer. They are informative and educational.
Sometimes at the end of the doctor's examination, a brand drug will be prescribed. Oftentimes, the doctor is unaware if it has a generic competitor.
Here's another scenario. While waiting in the reception room, a drop-dead gorgeous young woman dressed in a conservative dark blue suit with hems set seductively an inch below the knees walks into the office with a brief case on wheels. A word with the receptionist and minutes later is talking to the doctor you've been waiting for a half hour.
She's a pharmaceutical sales woman or, in my case, a rep from Medtronic, the largest and most successful insulin pump and medical devise manufacturer in the nation.
You can see where this is headed.
How beholden are our physicians to the drug and medical devise industry. It is true that doctors are held accountable for ethics and medical standards by their peers and in most states by governing boards. But nothing happens unless a peer snitches on another doctor or a patient files a complaint.
Some of the most comical ads on TV is when an agent of Big Pharma says to ask your doctor about prescribing its product and then spends three-quarters of the remaining ad time warning of all the side effects.
Sometimes the ad says call your doctor immediately if those side effects appear. If your doctors are like mine, good luck because those return calls will not set any land speed records. It's not because they consider you a hypochondriac. Usually, they're busy, and equally important, don't get paid for call backs.
It is with some consolation that the Council of Medical Specialty Societies issued new ethics codes Wednesday to limit the influences that drug and device makers have over patient care. It is billed as the most sweeping move ever taken by the group which represents 32 medical societies with 650,000 members.
"We take very seriously the trust that is placed in us by physicians and patients to be authoritative, independent voices in cancer care," said
Dr. Allen Lichter, chief of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He led the panel that developed the code.
The most controversial and strongest rule requires leaders of any medical society and editors of its journals from consulting deals or financial ties to Big Pharma.
The code requires groups to:
- Publicly post any industry support the group receives, such as money for continuing education sessions.
- Decline industry funding for developing medical practice guidelines, such as who should get a drug, a test or treatment. Require that most members of a guidelines panel be free of financial ties to industry.
- Disclose any financial ties that leaders and board members have with companies.
- Ban company or product names and logos from pens, bags and other giveaways at conferences.
During the recent national debate on health reform, Big Pharma took a hit as one of the bad guys driving health costs up.
What was lost in the hysteria is that the major drug companies offer free or copays ranging as high as $10 for a 30-day prescription to low income patients on Medicaid.
In my case, Medtronic through my endocrinologist implanted at no cost to me an electronic chip that monitored my blood sugars ever five minutes over a 72-hour period. Health Net, my insurance carrier, refused to cover the expensive procedure.
It was the first time my blood sugars were continuously tracked, finally allowing the doctor and I to adjust the insulin dosages for my diabetes 24/7. My blood glucose has been under control ever since with only sporadic deviations.
For the new health reform legislation to work, this absurd call of resistance led by right wing-nuts of a government takeover must end. Treatment of diabetes is one of the most expensive causes for skyrocketing costs among all the major diseases. In my case, working with my doctors, the insurance carrier, drug and medical devise manufacturers, my cost of treatment has been reduced by about 75% in the past year.
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