Myth: The “Doctor Only Has My Best Interests in Mind”
Twisted together like the snake and the staff, doctors and drug companies have become entangled in a web of interactions as controversial as they are widespread.
—Arnold Relman, M.D., Harvard medical professor
When we go to the doctor or even a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN, we assume they want only what’s best for us—which is certainly true. The vast majority of doctors become doctors because they want to heal sick people. That much is obvious. What isn’t as obvious, in fact what been hidden from public view, are the tactics big drug companies use to influence what’s on the minds of our doctors when they see us.
Whatever amount of time, energy, and money Big Pharma spends on convincing me and you to buy their specific brands, that pales in comparison to the resources they devote to sway our doctors. Why? They know that doctors or sometimes Chiropractor of Little Falls MN are the gatekeepers to our pocketbook because only they have the power to prescribe medication. So let’s pull back the curtain and expose the truth behind this next myth.
Talk to Your Doctor
1) Early bird gets the worm. Drug companies know that getting in with doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN when they’re younger is key to persuading those doctors to continue to prescribe their brand when they’re older. That’s why you find Big Pharma’s presence at nearly every medical school across the country where students are provided with free pizza, pasta, pens, and all manner of perks. This may seem like no big deal, but that’s exactly what they want you to believe. In 2004 the New England Journal of Medicine published an eye-opening article by a group of investigators who said that, “even small gifts create a sense of indebtedness, which can lead to inappropriate prescribing.” (23) The old saying is true: there is no such thing as a free lunch.
2) Train of Thought. Not even the teachers and researchers can escape the reach of the drug giants’ grasp. Like an infection, Big Pharma’s influence has spread to the highest levels of research, making it nearly impossible to find a senior medical researcher who isn’t in bed with them.24 This is a problem because it’s through research that doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN know what the best course of action is for you. Harvard professor Arnold Relman, a noted critic of the cozy relationship between medical practitioners and the drug industry, pulls no punches: “The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research.” And later saying that, “Academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.” (24) †
3) Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Every day in the U.S. about 100,000 sales representatives visit doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN—ranging from family doctors to those in the ER. (25) Targeting doctors is considered so critical to the drug industry that they shell out at least $21,000 per doctor per year bombarding them with marketing material designed to persuade them to prescribe you their latest product. (26) This is the pharmaceutical companies’ favorite marketing tool for one reason: it is unnervingly effective. You’ll find out how good the return on their investment is in a moment. These tactics, though, have been going on for so long that one frustrated researcher said that “these aggressive, over-the-top marketing practices ‘are virtual fixtures in medical practice.'” (26)
And that’s not the scary part.
4) The scary part is this: while most doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN accept this is going on, most reject the possibility that it actually affects them. Yet another researcher, had this to say: “My criticism is of the naiveté of doctors and/or their unwillingness to accept overwhelming evidence that the techniques used by the industry to increase prescribing their products actually work.” (27)
How well their tactics work is a lot more hair-raising.
(†) If you want to learn more about this or maybe you don’t believe me, I suggest reading the research article that is referenced in this paragraph. It’s absolutely startling.
The Return on Investment (ROI)
Since the early 1990s, the number of prescriptions that Americans consume has nearly doubled. (28) In 2011 this came to roughly thirteen prescriptions for every man, woman, and child. (29) When you boil this down, it means that we are consuming 25 million pills… not per year… not per week… not per day… but per hour. (30)
That’s a lot of medication. And for the ever-greedy drug companies, that’s a lot of money. Since 1997, the amount Americans spend on prescription drugs has increased 392 percent. (24) And in 2015 the drug giants generated a whopping $309.5 billion. (31) If you were to have that amount of money in one hundred dollar bills stacked end-to-end, it would reach the moon’s surface. And, you’d still have millions left over.
It’s obvious that drug companies do not have your best interests in mind. As said earlier, their main interest is making money. But what about our doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN who are caught in the middle of all this?
Let me be clear. Doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN are caring and smart people who are where they are and do what they do because they want to help people like me and you. Doctors do have your best interests in mind, but they’re busy and overloaded with patients. Plus, there is an overwhelming onslaught of new research to absorb almost daily. And they can’t learn everything in all their years at med school. So when you combine all of this with Big Pharma’s influence in schools, hospitals, and clinics, it’s impossible that your best interests are the only thing on your doctor’s mind.
What do you do? I, as a Chiropractor of Little Falls MN will do my best showing you exactly what to do to become pain-free, but for right now, rest assured that being aware of this myth as you seek help with your pain is part of the solution.
* MYTH: Doctors have only your best interests in mind. Doctors are targeted early and often by the major drug corporations in a relentless attempt to persuade them to use the products that they sell.
* TRUTH: Doctors and Chiropractor of Little Falls MN do have your best interests in mind, but it’s not the only thing on their mind. So if you’re in pain and you’re headed to the doctor or any other health care professional’s office, recognize that they’re human and not without flaws.
- Studdert, David M., LL.B., Sc.D., M.P.H., Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., M.Phil., and Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H. “Financial Conflicts of Interest in Physicians’ Relationships with the Pharmaceutical Industry: Self-Regulation in the Shadow of Federal Prosecution Legal Issues in Medicine.” The New England Journal of Medicine (2004): 1891-1900.
- Moynihan, R. “Who Pays for the Pizza? Redefining the Relationships Between Doctors and Drug Companies.” 1: Entanglement. BMJ 326, no. 7400 (2003): 1189-1192. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1189.
- Docking the Tail That Wags the Dog: Banning Drug Reps from Academic Medical Facilities, William B. Millard, PhD. Special Contributor to Annals News & Perspective Annals of Emergency Medicine. Vol 49 No 6 June 2007 785-791.
- Persuading the prescribers: pharmaceutical industry marketing and its influence on physicians and patients. Fact Sheet November 11, 2013 http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2013/11/11/persuading-the-prescribers-pharmaceutical-industry-marketing-and-its-influence-on-physicians-and-patients.
- The medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry: When will we open our eyes? Kerry J Breen, MB BS, MD, FRACP. The Medical Journal of Australia, April 19, 2004, 180 8 409-410.
- Generation Rx How Prescription Drugs Are Altering American Lives, Minds, and Bodies, Greg Critser Houghton Mifflin Company 2005 Page 2.
- Record 4.02 Billion Prescriptions in 2011. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/re leases/250213.php.
- Paulette C. Morgan, “CRS Report for Congress,” Health Care Spending: Past trends and projections. (2004).
- Report: Americans spent 8.5 percent more on prescription drugs in 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-us-prescription -drug-spending-2015-20160414-story.html.