Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Doctors & drug companies
I'm back today after being away for a little while. I was out spreading the word about "Chasing Life," a CNN special and an accompanying book. Thanks to many of you, the book is a New York Times and national best seller. I hope all of you get a chance to chase life. I decided to write the book after the birth of my first daughter, and now I truly practice what I preach. While I never really thought about mortality, I do know that I want to be around as long as possible, and I believe this book could help us all.
On my first day back, I'm reporting about the cozy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and doctors, based on a new survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I was surprised to learn that 94 percent of physicians have some sort of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. That means just about every physician that cares for you has interacted with the industry in some way. Most of the time (83 percent), the relationship is based on food and beverages provided to doctors, such as a catered lunch. Another popular icebreaker (78 percent) is free drug samples, and about a third of the time the relationship involves money-- actual payments to doctors for consulting services or for lectures.
Breaking it down even further, the survey found that family practitioners are most likely to meet with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, and cardiologists are most likely to accept payments. Doctors at hospitals and clinics were less likely to meet with the drug companies than physicians in solo practice.
So, what does this all mean for you? On one hand, an argument can be made that these drug representatives help educate doctors about new medications and therapies. That certainly could be in your best interest. Others argue that relationships, ANY relationships, between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry are unscrupulous and should be questioned. Where do you come down on this issue? Again, keep in mind- as it stands now, more than nine out of 10 doctors interact with the pharmaceutical industry in some way.
ABOUT THE BLOGGet a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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