Physician Pill Perks

Doctor Pill Profits

Anyone that travels by jet understands the reward programs offered by most airlines.  Those frequent flyer miles can certainly add up and are great for free trips in the future.  The health care industry also has its own rewards program for physicians.  I call this the physician pill perks plan.

The pharmaceutical industry invests billions of dollars in developing new medications for patients.  When these drugs finally are awarded FDA approval, the marketing arms of these pharmaceutical companies kicks in to heavily promote their new drugs.  Often people are bombarded with television advertisements touting the advantages of these new drugs.  But you, the consumer, can’t directly buy the pills.  The reason why pharmaceutical companies run these ads is influence your conversation with your doctor.  But big drug companies understand that they must do more than advertise to consumers to sell their new and often costly prescription medications.

Many physicians, which are reluctant to prescribe newly approved medications, need more incentive to prescribe the most profitable drugs that pharmaceutical companies have.  These drug companies will often buy the entire medical office lunch, give them t-shirts, pens, notepads and coffee mugs.  And let me tell you that the lunches these drug companies buy for their clients are not happy meals, but rather steak, lobster and other expensive meals purchased from a nearby restaurant.

Big drug companies have deep wallets and don’t stop with buying medical staff a high dollar lunch.  The major pharmaceutical companies host what are called “seminars” as a service for doctors so that they may receive professional training and stay up to date with the latest in medicine.  As one would imagine, these seminars are hosted in Hawaii and other popular tourist locations.  And yes, travel and overnight accommodations are paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.  Some doctors also get the benefit of a rental car and meals paid for as well.

While some seminars offered by the big drug companies may serve a purpose, they are mostly sign in and leave events which exploit a loophole in bribery laws.  If the seminar starts at 9:00AM, all a doctor has to do is sign their name and go hit the greens for the day.  And as you may suspect, these are not typically single day seminars.  Such medical seminars can last for days and even a week.  Just imagine the bill for hosting such events and providing these perks!

If you have ever wondered why prescription medications cost you or your insurance company so much money, you have to keep in mind that a large percentage of the drug costs must cover the physician pill perks plan.  The next time your doctor is on vacation, as mine is at least four times a year, you will better understand how or she he can afford to take so much time off of work for leisure.  And with the physician pill perks plan, the cost of malpractice insurance so many complain of is actually much more tolerable.

While the physician pill perks plan is just one example of how the health care industry has serious flaws, the abuse is not confined to prescribed drugs.  All of your medical device manufacturers also utilize similar marketing tactics to promote their equipment.  Combined, patients and their insurance companies are losing billions of dollars a year to cover these legal bribes.  If we are ever to reform the health care industry, these abuses must be addressed in a way that preserves legitimate marketing while also considering the financial burden placed directly on patients.  Such medical marketing tactics are part of the reason why the cost of health insurance premiums in the United States has continued to outpace inflation by 100-200% and greater.