New York Times: NYT HomePage reports As Doctors Write Prescriptions, Drug Company Writes a Check.
“An investigation has shed light on the system of financial lures that
drug companies use to persuade doctors to favor their products.”
By Gardiner Harris.
In many ways, the investigations are a response to the evolution of the
pharmaceutical business, which has grown in the last quarter-century
from a small group of companies peddling a few antibiotics and
antianxiety remedies to a $400 billion bemoth that is among the most
profitable industries on earth… Offering
treatments for almost any affliction and facing competition in which
each percentage point of market share can represent tens of millions of
dollars, most drug makers now spend twice as much marketing medicines
as they do researching them.
This sounds like a market out of control. The arangements between
the manufacturers and distributors (doctors) leave the patient worried
about getting an informed an impartial decision, while the patients are
left ignorant of the economics of the arrangement, both between
manufacturer and doctor, and in what their insurance ends up paying.
This is capitalism with a fatal flaw: deals go on in the back room that
the players aren’t aware of. When the system is made transparent,
products can compete far more fairly.