Enter the federal government's master plan to use the public to decry and shame physicians' prescribing practices. Using a few “bad apples” that shamelessly touted medications inappropriately, the government must intercede on the patient's behalf, thus all interactions between physicians and the industry must be publicly reported on a new database, having light as bright as the sun cast on them. In this way, the public can see if their physicians are being “bribed” to prescribe. Under the guise of transparency, by the least transparent government in history despite what President Barack Obama claimed, the public will apply pressure to the physicians who choose to maintain their industry relationships. Others, afraid to be listed, will simply cut ties.
The result will be a decrease in physician-industry interaction. Without such, physicians will be ill-equipped to prescribe the newest agents, which are also typically the more expensive. This will lead to a reduction in that segment of the healthcare dollar's outlay. But, a downstream effect is without profitable pharmaceutical companies, future research and development funding will dry up, reducing the number of next-generation medications, and relieving thousands of their jobs. The administration views this as positive because that would stem the tide of prescription drug prices, and physicians would be forced to resort to older, cheaper agents.
When patient care suffers, as it will inevitably, the government will throw its hands up in the air and loudly declare that it doesn't practice medicine—despite stifling it. On the other hand, if, perchance, care does not falter, it will break its arm patting itself on the back saying what a wonderful job the ACA has done to advance care in a cost-effective manner. Not that I am an advocate for using every new agent that is FDA-approved, but how can we trust that there is no ulterior motive from a government that is not itself transparent. Where's the publicly searchable database for our elected representatives and the president? What did the tens of millions of dollars loosely spent on IRS and GSA conferences do for the public good? The Sunshine Law will indeed be blistering for physicians; if it's good for the goose, I'm waiting for the day the gander gets cooked.
Joshua Lenchus, D.O.
Associate professor of clinical medicine and anesthesiologyUniversity of Miami Miller School of Medicine Miami