Docs and the Drugs They Push

As I wrote earlier in the week, members of the medical profession are moaning and groaning about how once again they are taking an unfair beating at the hands of the mad socialists in Washington. For years now docs have been acting as salesmen for drug companies, in some cases,working with the drugsters to outmanuever FDA regulations–not that it’s very difficult to outmanuever that regulatory body which has become little more than an industry pr shop.

Hopefully the Sunshine Act, which is part of health reform legislation, and which requires drug companies to disclose who they buy research from and for how much, will help put a stop to doctors as drug  salesmen. The problem is horrendous. On March 14, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a lengthy detailed account of the relationship between Wisconsin doctors and the drug industry. It is well worth reading in full. Here are a few bits:

When looking for a doctor to travel the country and tout its costly prescription fish oil pill, GlaxoSmithKline didn’t select a heavyweight university researcher.

Instead, it wrote checks to Tara Dall, a Delafield primary-care doctor who entered private practice in 2001.

For just three months of speaking engagements last year, GlaxoSmithKline paid Dall $45,000, ranking her among the most highly paid of more than 3,600 doctors nationwide who spoke for the company, which released records for only one quarter of the year…..

Dall hedged when asked in an interview if she fully disclosed her financial relationship with GlaxoSmithKline to all the patients for whom she prescribes the company’s high-priced fish oil product, known as Lovaza.

“I think I would (disclose) if I was going to do anything off-label,” she said. “Whether I tell every single patient, I’m not sure.”

The next day she called back and made a short statement, but hung up without answering questions.

“It is absolutely disclosed to patients that I am a speaker and that I speak for pharmaceutical companies, and it is listed on my Web site,” she said…..

The story describes the cozy dealings between companies and docs, citing other cases, before returning to Dall:

According to her résumé, Dall does talks for five other drug and medical companies in addition to GlaxoSmithKline as well as community talks, including an unpaid speech on heart disease she gave to General Electric Co. employees in Wisconsin last August.

There, she made an eyebrow-raising statement about heart disease.

“As soon as we identify what puts you at risk, we can absolutely fix it,” Dall assured them in the talk, a video of which is posted on her Web site. “We can totally prevent cardiovascular disease from happening. We can completely trump genetics.”

That’s wrong, according to Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, and Raymond Gibbons, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

At best, cholesterol-controlling statin drugs reduce heart attacks and strokes by about one-third, Nissen said.

“We cannot trump genetics,” Nissen said. “If she was right, we could wipe this disease out just by giving drugs to people. Even if we put statins in the water supply, cardiovascular disease would still be the leading cause of death.”

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2 responses to “Docs and the Drugs They Push

  1. The problem is not just of Doctors pushing drugs. There is a serious problem of revolving doors between the CDC, the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies they are supposed to oversea. This has been going on for years.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/z027789_Dr_Julie_Gerberding_Merck.html

    Former head of CDC lands lucrative job as president of Merck vaccine division (opinion)

    by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

    (NaturalNews) You’ve heard it before, how the pharmaceutical industry has a giant “revolving door” through which corporations and government agencies frequently exchange key employees. That reality was driven home in a huge way today when news broke that Dr. Julie Gerberding, who headed the CDC from 2002 through 2009, landed a top job with Merck, one of the largest drug companies in the world. Her job there? She’s the new president of the vaccine division.

    How convenient. That means the former head of the CDC was very likely cultivating a relationship with Merck all these years, and now comes the big payoff: Heading up a $5 billion division that sells cervical cancer vaccines (like Gardasil), chickenpox vaccines and of course H1N1 swine flu vaccines, too.

    So what’s the problem with all this? The problem is that private industry and government health offices such as the CDC or FDA should never be so cozy. When they are, it creates an environment of collusion between Big Government and Big Pharma. We’ve already seen this with the government-led push for swine flu vaccines that are manufactured (and sold) by drug companies like Merck.

    You might even say that the CDC already functions as the marketing division of the pharmaceutical industry. It was the CDC that pushed so hard for swine flu vaccines, even amid the obvious realization that swine flu was no more dangerous than seasonal flu. To this day, the CDC still hasn’t bothered to recommend vitamin D for the prevention of either seasonal flu or swine flu. It remains heavily invested in the lucrative vaccine approach — an approach that just happens to financially benefit the very corporations that are hiring ex-CDC employees like Dr. Gerberding.

  2. typo: oversea should be oversee

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