Quicky: Health and Money

I am not usually as obsessive about health issues as I seem to be his week, but the cool stuff just keeps coming.

Now Kent Sepkowitz has a really good article up at Slate. He discusses the combination of drug companies and doctors. Both why each side needs the other and the risks and evils in the system. He also points to the inherent weakness as he sees it.

It’s a sleazy proposition all the way around. But as Calvin Coolidge once said, the business of America is business. Successful businesses want to sell as much as they can, as fast as they can. So doctors end up with meals and pens and trips and bogus advisory-board positions and, of course, the hordes of fine-looking well-perfumed young men and women—some literally cheerleaders—who hustle their way through physicians’ offices.

Despite its successes, the pharma business model does have a problem. The drug reps, foot soldiers in the mercantile crusade, don’t know what they are talking about. Unlike a shoe salesman or the guy who sold you your laptop, the drug rep is 100 percent lost. Imagine buying a car from someone who’s never had a driver’s license—that’s how the doctor-drug relationship plays out. None of the people trying to convince me to prescribe product A ever has prescribed product A—or product B or product C for that matter. None has ever experienced the elaborate mess that is routine patient care. The freebies seek to redress this imbalance by making the exchange seem worthwhile.

It’s a good article and I advise reading it in full.

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3 comments so far

  1. Teresa on

    I’ve met one of these drug reps. He’s dating a friend of a friend.

    He’s a fundamentalist Catholic who doesn’t read the Bible because he “Knows what it says” ardently believes in unrestrained free-market capitalism, and has reportedly spent $7,000 in one pop on a set of rims for his vehicle.

    He’s arrogant, judgemental, conceited, and very controlling and manipulative.

  2. blc303 on

    Yes he might be all – that but more importantly is he good looking and does he smell nice? One wonders what he thinks of evolution. Oh, that’s right. Microevolution is OK. Because pharma companies need it. Where was that in the Bible again? *Flip. Flip. Flip.* Hmmm.

    I feel for your friend.

    My pet drug rep is just good looking and brain dead. She has basically memorized the talking points from her sales stuff. Other than that, not much goes on behind her eyes. She is self-admittedly waiting for Dr. Right to come along and pop the question involving rings rather than the question about a weekend on Mallorca. She is however very good at her job.

  3. Teresa on

    I don’t think he is good-looking, but I guess other women do…

    Maybe we should introduce the two of them and let my normally very judicious friend off the hook for her temporary boy insanity.


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