Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Doctors and manufacturing companies

Doctors are the main marketing target of the companies who manufacture drugs and medical devices. However the companies are restricted from 'buying' their 'prescription' pads. There is an important relationship between the doctors and the companies - doctors can provide valuable feedback to the companies on the efficacy and side effects their products. Its sort of like never ending clinical trials. The companies want to make sure that there is an open line of communication from the doctor back to them.

The problem is it really can't be an open line from the company to the doctor. The doctor needs to make medical decisions based on the best interest of the patient and not based on the best interest of the manufacturer who bought him dinner last week. Now the government is stepping in and will force companies to publicly report all payments made to doctors who are not on their employees and will fine them significantly if they don't comply.

I'm not a fan of the government having to make silly little laws that will create huge piles of paper work - or gigabytes of data on line - which this certainly will. There is enough paperwork around in the world already. However I do want to know if my doctors receive payments from any companies and could in anyway be swayed by their financial compensation.

I definitely would want to look up my doctors. Partly out of curiosity and partly out of concern that they are giving me the medications that are best of me. One of my doctors, who shall remain nameless, always seems to want to switch my medications for newer ones - always the newest brand name drugs. I assume that he is doing it because these new meds might help me more than the ones that have been around for a while or ones that I have already tried and didn't really work. I mean that is why we have all this medical research going on - to come up with better treatments for the patients.

If you look at it from the company's point of view, they are restricted from marketing to their primary targets. As a marketing person, I can see how that would be very difficult. Putting ads in consumer based magazines about their new medications is one way to do it but then patients go blind trying to decipher the fine print of side effects before asking their doctors about them. Its a tough balance but I like to see the restrictions so the doctors make medical decisions on my ailments not financial ones on their wallets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting, my brother, just retired from 40 year career as physician ( Internal Medicine and also geriatrician) had a rule that he never prescribed a NEW drug for 12 to 24 months in order to see what the true side effects were. He waited till the dust settled.