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.
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.