Thursday, September 01, 2011

Of Pens and Payoffs

It's the ultimate irony to this casual observer.

Remember when doctors were chastised for accepting a pen worth pennies from a pharmaceutical company due to the pharmaceutical industry's pervasive marketing techniques that swayed the prescribing practices of millions of doctors?

Bad doctors.

We should have known better: all that covert marketing influence created by all those pens. No doubt thanks to that former practice we were single-handedly raising health care costs for Americans every time we looked at our pop-up Viagra pens. Man were we dogs!

Dirty. Rotten. Scoundrels. All.

So thank GOODNESS that the FDA can raise the fees it extracts from those same drug companies for their purposes! Certainly there would never be any influence on members of the FDA, especially since the negotiations between the FDA and the pharmaceutical lobbying organization were "relatively smooth." Let's see: A 6% increase to the 62% of the $930 million the FDA spends annually to review new pharmaceutical applications?

Around here, we call this "The Chicago Way:"
They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way.

–Jim Malone, "The Untouchables"
"Influence? What influence? I'm not seein' no stinkin' influence of these payments to our government officials! No way!

It's just a little money for a few pens.




Anonymous said...

There's more and more of this in DC: in misguided efforts to cut spending, regulatory agencies are being funded by "assessments" on those they regulate.

Not good.

Keith said...

It's OK for politicians to accept campaign donations and claim they are not influenced by those donations. It is OK for these same politicians to go on junkets and attend dinners from lobbying firms without concern that our politicians will be unduly influenced. It is OK for a financial consultant to reccommend you to someone for advice and take a cut (kickback?) for this advice. But is not OK for a doctor to accept a pen from a pharmaceutical rep!?

Of course, we know who writes the rules, so it is easy to see why practices that are deemed illegal or immoral seem aceeptable for certain occupations but not for others.

Tim Hulsey, MD said...

I'm old enough to remember when Eli Lilly gave graduating medical students a nice leather medical bag with our names emblazoned in gold letters. Now, that was graft! You didn't have to have a reflex hammer sticking out of your white coat pocket, a stethoscope hanging around your neck, and a Harriet Lane manual in your hand. You could put it all in your official medical bag, Doctor! That's right! "Doctor!" It said so right there on the bag. The gesture created more good will than drug sales.

I still have mine. But, you know what? Outside of insulin, I couldn't name you a drug Lilly makes (maybe it's more age than attitude). I'm not showing much gratitude, am I?

I remember when medical graduates somewhere– probably California or New York; maybe Chicago– put theirs in a pile and burned them in protest (I think they were the same ones in the white coats in the White House Rose Garden)!

For some reason, I prefer my ingratitude to theirs.

Pluripotent said...

Ethics are for the little people.