Friday, April 27, 2007

Drug Dealing at the Doctor's Office

Most of the time I write about funny things that happen in my life or just life in general. However, some days there are things I hear that are not so funny and make my blood pressure rise a little.

Yesterday on the way to my son's preschool I was listening to my favorite morning trio, Mark, Ed, and Sgt. Sam on KLBJ 590 AM. You know you are getting old when you switch over from the KLBJ FM morning crew! Sgt. Sam doesn't do fart jokes.

They had a drug representative for a pharmaceutical company on talking about local doctors and how they get "face time" in their offices to push their pills. This lady said of the 250 doctors on her list about half of them required her to bring breakfast or lunch for the entire office before she could give her sales pitch for the drugs. Some went as far as providing her with a menu of what they wanted to eat. Some even complained when fajitas were brought in and said, "Fajitas again? We just had them yesterday."

She also said that some of the smaller companies with reps that had little or no budget to provide these kinds of perks to doctors had zero chance of getting in their door. None. Nada. Zilch.

Now I know this is nothing new. I worked for twelve years in the restaurant business and we had many private parties for drug companies that would invite dozens of doctors for free meals and wine. Some of these doctors would put their names on a list for the food to be prepared "to-go" and wouldn't even stay for the sales pitch. They would take their four tenderloins, sides, salads, and desserts home to their families. Nice perk. I'm sure this is all built into the price of the medicines we take. Thanks, Dr. Greedy.

In no way am I sticking up for the drug companies or endorsing some of their business practices. My point in this is that I would like to see the doctors who do not play this game with the drug reps be applauded for their ethics. They are probably more interested in providing quality healthcare than padding their stomachs with free food. Next time you are at your doctor's office and you see a drug rep come in, pay attention to how the doctors, nurses, and staff treat them. If they turn their noses up at fajitas again then you know where they stand.

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