The news recently reported that Pfizer (maker of Viagra, Zoloft, Lipitor, and other commercials) and had been fined $2.3 billion. Apparently they were promoting drugs by inviting doctors to “consultant meetings” at resort locations, paying their expenses and providing perks, including free golf and massages. (Devlin Barrett, Green Bay Press Gazette, “Pfizer to pay record $2.3 billion penalty for drug promotions”, A-13, 3 Sep. 2009). Essentially, this means that when the TV commercial says, “Ask your doctor if Zoloft right for you,” they’ve gotten to your doctor first. He wrote out his first prescriptions in med school on a Zoloft clipboard, his office is littered with pens and other free Zoloft promotional materials, and he’s been to the Zoloft “consultant meeting”. Do you think he’ll find that an equivalent generic drug will work just as well, or that you don’t need a drug at at all? I think he’ll give you a prescription for Zoloft.
The worst part, of course, is that all this money comes from you. It is you, the patient, that ultimately pays for the drug that provides the money for them to run millions of dollars in commercials, hand out promotional materials and bribe doctors with great perks.
In other news, the Green Bay Press Gazette also noted that health care costs have more than tripled since 1990.(Ref) How could costs more than triple in 19 years? Is that even possible?