In response to reader comments and responses on Joseph Conn's "Data-miners unite in Maine to block 'opt-out' Rx law":
Perhaps "nefarious" is too strong a word to use in Narayanachar Murali's depiction of pharma activities, but Terry Nugent, as a marketer, is taking a completely one-sided view of this issue. First, a comment on the reminder that physicians are "doctors of medicine"please be aware, medicine is not equivalent with medication. The practice of medicine involves far more than drug therapy. Pharmaceutical companies have certainly provided life-saving products, and no one wants to deprive them of reasonable profits to maintain research and development efforts. However, pharma spends inordinate amounts on marketing and physician gift-giving, even with regulations that were adopted under pressure. Prescription prices, even for some generics, remain far too high for many patientsand this is the real issue, not how drug prices relate to gastroenterologist incomes! Industry programs for indigent patients remain far too difficult to access and qualify for.
Unfortunately, the free market seems to benefit the pharmaceutical industry greatly, but provides inadequate protection for patients. The industry has fought all efforts to keep costs down, including powerful lobbying to keep the government from negotiating prices for the Medicare drug program, or allowing less expensive imports even from countries with good quality controls. Is it any wonder that regulation is seen as the only approach?
In regard to the American Medical Association, their role is not to keep dues low, but to represent physicians and, ultimately, our role in providing good patient care. Selling information, to profiling companies for drug company use, even in aggregate, is at least unwise and possibly unethical without asking permission from its physician members.
Paul McKenneyPhysicianInternal MedicineWarwick, R.I. To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.