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.