Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mr. Bojangles...

I want to do a post on pharmaceuticals. It’s just such a huge topic for me and I’m overwhelmed with how to break it into bite size pieces. Plus, there are so many perspectives. From just me alone. My insights, ideas, and gut reactions are multi-tiered, multilayered, paradox pilings.

Tip of the iceberg:

  • Gratitude for the good they can do. I remember what it was like to suffer from migraine headaches before Imitrex or Maxalt came along. There were days when I would lay in bed and imagine the back of my head was going to explode and create a fierce artwork on the headboard. I even think I might have wished for it when the headaches got unbearable. I’m also grateful for the advances in cancer treatments and know the data showing that my rounds of chemotherapy and radiation will increase my odds of the cancer not metastasizing or returning.

  • Skepticism. The pharmaceutical industry runs too much like a capitalistic monstrosity with their moral compass equivalent to that of Wall Street and our financial institutions. It seems that since it is not very good business practice to keep us completely healthy and balanced, the goal is to get using as many prescribed drugs as possible. One med helps one thing, but throws off another. Like dominoes.

  • Distrust. Physicians seem a little too much in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. They partake of A LOT OF FREE STUFF. I’m really not comfortable with the fact that when I go to the doctor’s office, the sign in sheet clipboard, the pen, the calendar on the wall – pretty much everywhere you look is marketing of pharmaceuticals. I mean, don’t the doctors make enough money to pay for their own, non-merchandizing, office supplies? My radiologist looked perplexed when I mentioned this to him.

  • Disapproval. More on the physicians/pharmaceutical inappropriate relationship. I put myself through college, grad school, and the first 6 years of teaching by waitressing (teaching alone wasn’t paying enough). In my last gig, an upscale fine-dining restaurant, the banquet room was often booked for pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical reps invite the docs and their wives, order an expensive four course meal, plus cocktails and wine, and then while the docs are eating, they put on a presentation. That was over 10 years ago, but friends who are managers and event planners tell me the pharmaceutical companies still book the most expensive parties. It’s the docs equivalent to prom.

My friends and I were sitting around discussing the likes of these dilemmas the other day. One friend was saying that her doctor wanted to put her on meds for high cholesterol. The doctor was poo pooing the idea that supplements (like flax seed) or holistic approaches would make any difference. She has since started going to a naturopath.

I go to my medical doctors. I have shopped around and have an excellent team of physicians that I like and trust. But I also go to an acupuncture clinic and physical therapy for my recovery. Right now, I can’t afford the naturopath because my insurance won’t cover it.

So, I can’t even get started on the insurance companies.

15 comments:

Robin said...

Ugh! There is so much to say on this topic - you could write a whole bog, never mind just a post or three....

I used to be on the hospitality side of the event biz and we did at least one pharma dinner a week. Huge profit margin. I have to say though, even if I was a heart surgeon with thousands of ops under my belt, that doesn't mean I want to see grahic photos of open heart surgery while you feed me steak and red wine. A little too close to home if you ask me....

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I know everyone needs to make money. I just want to think that doctors are healers first. And they need to be our intelligent line of reason between us and the cut throats in the pharmaceutical biz.

shaunna said...

geezily creezily, you're tackling the big boys now... yay and yay and yay again. well, you know how i feel. health care/medicine where people's lives are at stake shouldn't be run like a widget factory.

mr. bojangles... dance.

only a movie said...

This could be a long series of posts... I am with you. Grateful for some traditional western treatments and meds, but skeptical of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry...
My insurance covers my acupuncture 90%. Only way I could afford to go. I like to tackle most things holistically but often find I can't afford it.
The scariest thing to me is that I have good health insurance and find myself still stretched financially when there is a health issue that needs extensive treatment. I have bills from my son last year that will take a while to pay off.

Kristan said...

Yeah, I have mixed feelings on all this too... As for the pens, though, I'd guess that like your radiologist, it's just not something the doctors think about (people's perception) but a totally valid point. Take the pens home and bring in some of your own, you know? Then you're still not spending money, and no one is without a pen!

thistle said...

all of this is spot on...and true even here in Canada with our universal health care (which doesn't cover meds unless you're on a pension of some kind)

i find the docs seem to follow trends...we have a spike in Type II diabetes in our MH clients cos someone touted a certain med as the next great anti-psychotic...unfortunately it causes for many tremendous weight gains, which comes with a load of health problems all in itself...requiring more meds of other kinds...yikes...

but in some cases, some responsibility lies with the patient...for many who won't take responsibility for their own health, it's so much easier for a dr to give them an Rx, rather than counsel and encourage them to make necessary lifestyle changes...some are just looking for a pill to fix things...and that's what keeps the pharms in business...JMO

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

My insurance doesn't even cover the acupuncture. but I go to the teaching school and see an intern, so it's $15. We have very good insurance - but they cover nothing preventative. I find that so ironic. Even with good insurance - our portion of my medical bills wiped out our savings (except teh 401K's and now - yeah,those are getting hit) and then I had to make payments for two yers to pay off everything.

The naturaopath I used to go to made so much sense in explaining how western meds can do great things, but they mostly treat symptoms. Holistic medicine looks for and treats the root causes. If you take too many meds, the side effects ping off each other and just keep causing more symtoms.

McEwens said...

I wish insurance would focus on US.. the people that are sick and not them and their wallets!

(What I also wish for is a world with no viagra commercials!)

Maybe, if your choose for pres won, this could happen??????

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

mcewan - that's what I'm hoping. Not extreme socialized medicine - just someone who makes pharmaceutical and insurance companies accountable for health and not just profits.

goodfather said...

Jenny McArthy's story about her fight with her son's autism was published in Us Weekly last week. The story is also here. Although they (the 'them' that has lobbyists in Washington) insist there is no scientific evidence for linking autism with vaccinations, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. We've opted for spacing out our one-year-old's shots as much as we can, and NOT GETTING the 'non-essential' shots. Why should we got shots that just pay the pharmaceutical companies, but may put OUR CHILD at risk for autism?

Great post!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

gooodfather - I'm going to go check it out. "They" will insist until they squeeze every dollar possible I suppose.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I work in a surgery practice. I think our government has put a stop to a lot of what you are talking about. I can tell you that (at least in my office) while drug reps will drop off all sorts of pens, paper, clip boards, etc. it means nothing when the doctor writes the rx. She has no loyalties. I'm sure it's not this way everywhere but that's the way it is in my office and I can't imagine that we are so different. I would be bet that no one in my office including the doctor could tell you what company's name is on the clipboard.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Thanks SM That does make one feel better. I always wondered if they feel obligated or pressured. My current oncologist I'd say no, but the one I left behind made me uncomfortable with her med protocol.

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I agree with Robin. You could dedicate your whole dang blog every day for a year and still not get out all your thoughts.

starrlife said...

They just don't make Dr's that are curious anymore! Probably because they don't have time but I don't know. I like one that is openminded and pharm co's tend to make up their minds for them. In my business we see lots of those reps, some are really nice but the way they try to sell the Doc's well....