Is Your Doc Bought and Paid for by Big Pharma?

Dear Living Well Daily Reader,

I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office when a beautiful, leggy blonde sat down beside me.

She was dressed in heels and a fashionable skirt suit and made me instantly feel like I should probably sit up just a tad bit straighter.

Her fashion sense, briefcase, and iPad gave her away instantly: She was a drug rep.

As she waited for the doctor to come out, a lady on the other side of her started to make small talk. As the conversation moved from the fact that they both knew similar people (small world!), the lady innocently asked the rep what drug company she worked for.

What happened next was so perfect it was like a commercial.

The rep started her script on the new diabetes drug she was there to tell the doctor about. She told the woman about how it worked differently than other drugs on the market, how it was better and had less side effects.

And wouldn’t you know it, the lady the rep was speaking to had diabetes.

“I’m definitely going to ask my doctor about that!” she said.

“You really should, it’s a great option!” the rep exclaimed.

Then the doc came out and met with the rep. The entire two- minute exchange happened right in front of me.

The rep explained to my doc what the drug was for and how it’s better than other diabetes medications out there. She also mentioned that the side effect profile was reduced compared with other drugs.

She passed my doctor a brochure and went on her way. That was it.

From that exchange alone, my doctor was now “fully trained” on this new, amazing drug.

And when that patient in the waiting room eventually asked her about it, I wonder if my doc felt she knew all she needed to know to safely prescribe this new drug to her patients.

Now, I don’t know if this type of exchange between drugs reps and doctors is the norm, or how easily any one doctor is persuaded to prescribe a new drug based on what a rep told them. But it does make you wonder about the Wild West of drug reps and their influence on doctors.

Recently, a friend shared with me a source that could at least tell me how much money or gifts my doctor has taken from drug reps.

It’s called Dollars for Docs and is hosted by ProPublica. Drug companies are required by law to report the details of their payments or gift to doctors, and this site allows you to easily look up any doc and see how much they’re getting paid by Big Pharma.

So I looked up my doc. The total?

Between August 2013 and December 2014, my doc received $523 in “payments” from drug companies, all for food and beverage. (It’s a common practice for reps to bring lunch or coffee for docs and their staffs, and these amounts are included in amounts that must be reported by the reps.)

Five hundred bucks or so isn’t really that bad, but it’s more than I would have liked to have seen.

But when compared with the top five highest-earning docs, who earned $22-43 million from drug companies in that same timeframe, my doctor looks like an angel.

Now, I’m not saying that if a doc gets money from a drug company that they are no good or should be discredited entirely. But it does raise a red flag to me.

If you’re in the search for a new doctor, you know how hard it is to find one you like and trust. The Dollars for Doc site could make it a tad easier to screen potential docs, so I wanted to make sure you knew about it.

To living well,

Jasmine LeMaster
Health Researcher

P.S. If you want to see a rather funny, albeit controversial, commentary on the issue of drug reps, their training, and their influence on doctors, check out the 17-minute segment John Oliver did on Last Week Tonight back in February. (At least watch to the Advair part — it’s worth it!)

View More Free Articles

MAILBAG: Slow Dementia Down with THIS “Sugar Fix”

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, My wife has recently begun showing signs of dementia. Her doctor has put her on medicine to try and “slow the progression” but, if anything, she seems like she’s just getting worse. Is there anything we can do? –Martin from Durham, North Carolina Hi Martin, Some medications claim to slow...

Read This

Common Weed Killer Causes IBD?

It always puzzles me how anyone thinks we can spray toxic chemicals on our crops and NOT have them affect our health! Because despite what food manufacturers may claim, chemical residues from pesticides and herbicides show up on (and IN) the conventionally grown food we eat. And research makes it clear that these creepy chemicals...

Read This

All-Natural Solution FIGHTS Vision Loss

I think you’ll agree that aging should come with some perks. And chief among them is FINALLY having the time to relax and enjoy the retirement you earned. But that’s awfully hard to do if you’re losing your eyesight due to macular degeneration. Instead, your golden years become tarnished by having to focus on learning...

Read This

Dodge Diabetes with THIS “Barnyard” Secret

How does that old saying go? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We all know it’s easier to STOP something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it’s happened. And with all of its complications, including shortening your lifespan, type 2 diabetes is well worth preventing!...

Read This

Gut Trigger Causes Arthritis? (WEIRD)

I’ve had patients make some pretty strange claims about their arthritis. Many folks swear they can “feel a storm coming” in their joints. And I’ve heard this one so often (and had them be spot-on about that storm) that I believe it’s true. Other patients claim their joint pain gets worse when eating tomatoes. And...

Read This

Common Heart Condition Sends Dementia Risk SOARING

If you’re “of a certain age,” I bet you remember that iconic old slogan from the late 70s, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It always springs to mind when I see a sharp person’s memory start to fade away. They soon become unable to make decisions for themselves. Eventually, they even have...

Read This

MAILBAG: Protect Yourself Against New COVID Variants

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, “Most of my family has been hit with COVID. We’re thinking it’s the latest variant. Are there any extra, new recommendations for protecting yourself against the variant? (Aside from washing your hands?) My husband and I have tested negative so far, but we want to be careful.” –Tammy from Lancaster,...

Read This

Dial Down Blood Sugar Naturally [RIVALS Metformin!]

If you have diabetes, it’s almost certain that your conventional medical doctor put you on a blood sugar-lowering drug. And there’s ALSO a strong possibility that the drug makes you feel terrible. Common side effects include gas, bloating, upset stomach, kidney issues, and fatigue. Even worse, over time, these drugs become less effective. So even...

Read This

“Happiness Method” Slows Aging

Okay, I’ll admit it. There have been times I’ve found it tough to maintain an optimistic outlook these last few years. And I’m not alone. Studies show that unhappiness and loneliness are on the rise. That’s TERRIBLE news for our health. Because when you combine the two, it can deliver a devastating blow to your...

Read This

Belly Up to The Bowl for THIS New Nut Benefit

It’s the nuttiest time of year. And I’m not just talking about the decorating, shopping, and holiday chaos… I’m literally talking about NUTS. Sure, we eat these tasty treats all year round. But when the holidays approach our nut consumption goes through the roof. We eat more nuts from October through December than any other...

Read This