5 Reasons THIS Doctor Isn’t In Bed With Big Pharma

Every day, some person educated at the acclaimed Google-U pontificates on my prescribing habits. Apparently, my choices of antibiotics, vaccines, and blood pressure medications are influenced by my illicit relationship with “Big Pharma.”

Not so. Here’s why in 500 words.

5. “In Bed” implies some sort of mutual attraction—at times instinctual and uncontrollable but always enjoyable.

Most days, I can’t even stand to be in the room with a pharmaceutical rep. It’s really not that I mind an attractive, suitcase-wheeling, iPad-wielding person half my age with one twelfth of my education “teaching” me about new medications. It’s that those minutes are forever gone from my life.

Big Pharma, personified in those reps, takes up my waiting room chairs and hovers around my desk. Reps “just want five minutes of my time”…because their manager is riding along. Incomprehensible “information” clutters my desk and makes my head spin. Leary patients eye us suspiciously like we’ve just come out of the lavatory adjusting our clothes.

I am forced to listen hopefully to rehearsed speeches about the newest and greatest drug. For a few minutes I pretend I have all the time in the world. I nod and smile.

Why wouldn’t a patient spend $30 (after the coupon card that will take 18 steps and three different phone calls to activate) on a combination drug with an unpronounceable name? Oh. Never mind. I forgot that this new drug is merely a combination of two separate drugs that have been around for decades. Once the coupon expires (assuming it ever worked in the first place,) that new “combo pill” may cost ten times as much as its parts. Then again, it is awfully nice to only swallow one pill….I mean with all the swallowing a person has to do these days wouldn’t you pay for some pill economy?

4. $700/ month for any drug that I, an internist, would prescribe is insane. People every day are having to choose between eating and taking their medications. A while ago, I figured out, after months and months of testing, that a patient of mine was losing weight because after buying her pills at the end of the month, she did not have one dollar for food. She did fine the first three weeks and would try to stretch three weeks worth of meals into four. She knew that the medication bill was going to wipe her out until the next Social Security check came. Meanwhile she literally withered away before my eyes.

Hard to imagine being in bed with an entity I’d rather kick in the face.

No, the beautiful animated power point on the cute little laptop is not convincing enough. Perhaps spending less on the colorful but useless sales pieces could drop the cost of prescription drugs to this stratosphere?

3. Spending billions on drugs to enhance sexual function or to rearrange molecules of one drug to create a NEW one in the eyes of the patent office while simultaneously ignoring the antibiotic crisis is not an endearing quality for a bed-mate.

2. If I am going to “prostitute” my professional self, it’s going to be for something A LOT more substantial than a crappy pen or a dry chicken sandwich. This is not 1987. The days of pharma companies wooing doctors with “stuff” are, thankfully, long gone. Even back when buying my own pens seemed ludicrous, I never once pondered a medication for a patient only to notice the pen in my hand and say “Ah Ha! That’s the drug I’ll choose today!”

1. After a typical day on my feet, racing from patient to phone to patient while simultaneously hiding from reps clamoring for my signature, about the only entity I want to share my bed with is ….my bed.

Please note that no pharma rep was harmed in the writing of this post. And, in fairness there are a handful of reps and drugs that have actually had a positive impact on the care I provide my patients. To those select few—thank you, you know who you are.

Comments

  1. Doc Shannon says:

    Poor Chris!

  2. Adel mettry says:

    excellent piece, you are so good at writing
    the last part was so stinking funny

  3. Heather says:

    U said antibiotic crisis – thank u

  4. Erika says:

    Made me laugh – signed your former Crestor rep!

  5. Joe Cunningham says:

    If your Big Pharma rant lasts more than 4 hours…..

  6. Marilyn Clarke says:

    Another great post Dr. Meyer!

  7. Thomas Tober says:

    I love it…….I think that the pharmaceutical reps should make an appointment to see you also. They are taking time away from the next patient for 10 mins. of your time.

  8. Sandra Kowalski says:

    I love it. I work for big Pharma , on the research side making sure vaccines and drug are safe before they ever reach a person. And I can’t stand Pharma Reps! When I would go monitor at a site ( with an appointment scheduled 6 weeks in advance and a list of items I would need to see while at the office), If the reception person would ask if I was a Sales rep, I would almost scream NO! I’ve been sitting in the monitoring area when sales reps would come in and they would act like my best friend because they consider me a compadre.
    I was at an international meeting where my former company’s legal group spoke to the sales reps and told them what they can and cannot say to physicians about the new drug we were launching (PS a first in class). During the break we were in the ladies room and one of the reps was laughing saying she would tell the Doc whatever she wanted because what does legal know about selling drugs. Lo and behold, the legal person was in the ladies room in a stall and heard every word this sales rep said. Happy to say, the sales person never made it back to the training session and never made it back to work for the company.
    If I were you, I would ask them for the Package insert and say thanks I’ll read this when i have time, then thank them for the Package insert and lead them to the door. Better yet, I have been to offices where there is a box on the reception counter with a sign that says The Doctor is very busy with patients, please leave any information here. If you need to speak with the doctor please make and appointment and you will be billed for a visit. Thank you for your Consderation!

  9. Paul Doucette says:

    nicely said, of course. unfortunately, you made me love my job even more…not.

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