Saturday, May 12, 2012
The Big Pharmacutical Industry Needs Serious Reform
Prescription drugs kill more Americans each year than all the crack, meth, and heroin deaths combined.
There have been numerous investigations and/or studies by Congress and other legislative bodies over the years about the threats that Big Pharmaceutical Companies have brought to America and the world. Almost everybody knows, or suspects something about the unethical relationships that exist between doctors and the drug companies that “push” their drugs off on the “well educated” doctors and the poor and trusting public, a public that is too trusting and obviously gullible.
Recently, an East Coast based hospital chain that was affiliated with Harvard University Medical School prohibited its trusted physicians from accepting bribes of pharmaceutical company stock or from receiving unlimited “fees” for sitting on the boards of those companies. Note that the school did not stop the bribes totally, but simply agreed to limit them. As outrageous as it may seem, the doctors may still receive up to $5000 a day for their “services,” such as sitting on board meetings and attending propaganda sessions about company products.
Gosh, as a Lieutenant in the Navy I never made $5000 in a month. That kind of money in a day will get you into a luxury car in a week. No wonder they have so many of them to drive around in. A new car is like buying a big box of theater popcorn for them (heavy on the oil). If you decide you do not like the color after a few weeks, you can just trade it in on a different new car. No big deal. Why does this bother me?
At last count, approximately a quarter of a hundred vice presidents, clinical department heads and several other “top executives” in that one organization will be financially “punished” by this new restriction. This, of course, only goes to show you how seriously corrupt the problem has become. Money buys favors and the pharmaceutical industry uses lots of money to influence the medical professionals. Not only are they plied with generous offers of money and pharmaceutical company stock where they work, but many physicians from the most prestigious medical centers (not just the academic ones) are paid outrageous sums to push the use of the pharmaceutical company drugs and various treatment programs that they have “originated.” They are also entitled to stock shares so they have a vested interest in the growth of the company. None of them seem to think that it is a conflict of interest even though it is obvious to the public that such conduct is totally unethical.
The clamor over this blatant corruption and obvious conflict of interest at the expense of the public has brought the entire industry under verbal attack and scrutiny by state regulators and numerous hospitals, but the problem has only grown bigger, and bigger, and bigger with each passing year.
Many Pharmaceutical Companies use accomplished doctors to tour the nation as generously paid company spokesmen/salesmen. Hey, if you are a doctor who is tired of all of the lawsuits questioning your practice of medicine the easiest way out is to become a spokesman for a Big Pharmaceutical Company. The money is easy, and the stress of lawsuits is gone. Glory Halleluia! The Pharmaceutical Companies have the Lawyers who know how to fend off lawsuits and are excellent at it. Of course it is almost impossible for a physician to be both doctor and an executive spokesman at the same time. It is virtually impossible to objectively treat patients while at the same time pushing the use of company drugs to treat that patient, yet we see doctors wearing both hats in various degrees of capacity and they have the audacity to pretend that they have no conflict of interest in their performance.
It is all about the money. Either the doctor is working for the drug company where he is supposed to be trying to help it gain financial success, or he is working for his patient while trying to be impartial to any of the various pharmaceutical remedies while at the same time being objective in selecting cures for problems with the interests of the patient first and foremost in his decision making. By working for both the pharmaceutical company and the patient the doctor may be maximizing his income, but has to be shortchanging the company or the patient at one time or another. Almost all drug companies have a couple of physicians on their boards and hundreds of physicians on their payrolls.
Frequent presidential candidate Ron Paul has been quoted as saying that the FDA and Big Pharma are “in bed together.” The companies are only interested in making more money and building their monopolies. As is the case with almost all the industries that have federal regulation, the companies that are supposed to be “government regulated” are dictating to the regulators what the policies should be.
We need change we can believe in, but so far we are not seeing it in the Big Pharma Industry. It is another case of Big Money being the god of the executives and human life is forfeit for profit.