I get a newsletter from The Health Research Group put out by the respected non-profit group, Public Citizen. Their newsletter is called Worst Pills, Best Pills News and you can look them up online at http://www.worstpills.org.
In the most recent issue, Director Dr. Michael Carome talked about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act that is part of the Affordable Care Act commonly referred to as Obamacare. It was done in 2010 but finally went into effect in 2014.
So, we are nearing the end of 2014 and the companies manufacturing drugs and medical devices are mandated to report to the federal government payments and gifts to physicians and teaching hospitals. The law also mandates that the companies, physicians and hospitals involved be made public.
On September 30th, Medicare, which implements the act, released the first batch of data. The payments totaled an astounding 3.5 BILLION dollars. Another 1.1 billion was not disclosed for various reasons permitted under the sunshine act.
The breakdown for payments was $1.5 billion for research. (I have to ask, can research on a new drug be unbiased when paid for by a drug company? We’ve heard some pretty shady stories about that kind of buddy, buddy approach.)
$1 billion for gifts of stock. (That is bribery in my opinion. Same as cash.)
$380 million for speaking and consulting fees; (I Expect the speaker favors the drug company and again, sounds like bribery to me. How cozy.)
$302 million for royalties and licenses; (Don’t know what that entails.)
$167 million for travel, food and lodging and $128 million for other things.
(I was under the impression that travel and food and lodging stuff was off the table. Nope, that is only for senators and politicians. The Doctors and hospitals are still being sweetened.)
And, another 128 million for other purposes undefined? (I’m guessing, those little trinkets like advertising carry bags, small, soft ice chests, packets of golf tees, pens, drug and device samples etc. like those I recently saw at a health fair. They are intended to influence we consumers.)
I’ve never in my life been so cynical. Now I find it is imperative to be cynical in this corporate, greed dominated climate.
Dr. Carome summarizes with these words:
“While some of these payments may seem appropriate-such as those related to the conduct of industry-funded clinical trials-the majority of them have a corrupting influence on the practice of medicine. Financial relationships between physicians and industry influence the opinions and recommendations of health care providers in a variety of settings, including during the delivery of medical care; during Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meetings and deliberations of expert panels that develop clinical practice guidelines. Indeed, that is why so many payments and gifts go to physicians is to influence their prescribing practices.
The bottom line financial interests of these companies are not with the best interests of patients.”
I know for a fact I’ve been over prescribed drugs I didn’t need. For several years I had a holistic Doctor who took me off of everything I was taking. I wish he was still in the area. My current doctor always chooses generic drugs and Worst Pills Best Pills gives you the lowdown on drugs even your doctor does not know the truth about. So, if you are concerned, look them up.
As Jim always says, “Sometimes the truth ain’t pretty.”