The Ties that Bind: Doctors and Drug Makers

Usually you have to rent a good Mafia movie to watch people take bribes, but, some doctors are just a guilty as Tommy Two Chins or Joey Bag of Doughnuts. Gardiner Harris and Janet Roberts of The New York Times examine the link between drug makers and doctors:

There is nothing illegal about doctors’ accepting money for marketing talks, and professional organizations have largely ignored the issue.

But research shows that doctors who have close relationships with drug makers tend to prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs — whether or not they are in the best interests of patients.

“When honest human beings have a vested stake in seeing the world in a particular way, they’re incapable of objectivity and independence,” said Max H. Bazerman, a professor at Harvard Business School. “A doctor who represents a pharmaceutical company will tend to see the data in a slightly more positive light and as a result will overprescribe that company’s drugs.”

In an e-mail message, Dr. Allan Collins [President of the National Kidney Foundation and director of a government-financed research center on kidney disease] said he personally received in 2004 less than $10,000 from Amgen for educational presentations. “The contract amount of $1.9 million from Amgen was paid to the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation (MMRF) for the research contract, on which I am the designated senior researcher,” Dr. Collins wrote. He wrote that he did not work for or serve on the board of directors of the foundation. Dr. Collins discloses on his Web site and research papers that he is a consultant to Amgen, among other companies.

This issue drives Dr. Fuhrman crazy. So, instead of grabbing a Tommy Gun, a long trench coat, and taking care of business Eliot Ness-style. He simply shares his thoughts on the subject:

Some day the public will wake up to the medicalization of America and the collusion between the drug companies, the medical profession and the government. They pay doctors millions because it is money well spent. These influential doctors then market the drug to other doctors. It is a form of multi-level marketing.
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