An editorial in this past Saturday’s Los Angeles Times is the worst kind of holier-than-thou pronouncement — ill informed, full of unintended consequences, and bombastic.
A few select snippets:
“WHEN A PATIENT GETS a prescription from her doctor, she shouldn’t have to worry that the drug was selected because of a pharmaceutical company’s marketing skills. That’s why Stanford University Medical Center’s announcement this week that it’s no longer allowing physicians to accept gifts from pharmaceutical sales representatives is so refreshing. No more free lunches. No drug samples. Not even those cute mugs. It’s an austere measure that other medical centers should follow.”
No more free lunches. No more cute coffee mugs. No more pens. Big deal. No more free samples — that’s a serious disservice to the public health. Just ask any … doctor. Clearly the LA Times had neither the time nor the inclination to do so. Pity.
‘The drug industry says such bans, which also have been enacted in the last two years by Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania, will make it more difficult for doctors to interact with and learn from sales representatives. This is true. But so what? Drug reps typically keep physicians up to speed on pharmaceutical pipelines and medical research, something research shows doctors don’t do enough on their own. But physicians, who control patients’ lives with their decisions, must be held to the highest ethical standards possible to ensure that those decisions are based on the best empirical knowledge, not personal gain or social proximity.”
Yeah, “so what.” Who needs educated doctors anyway. And yet, in the same paragraph, the editorial speaks to the need for “the best empirical knowledge.”
But it’s much more important to punish the evil pharmaceutical industry than to ensure patient care, right?
“This won’t be cheap. Stanford estimates that making up for all those ‘free’ lunches and drug samples could cost the medical center millions. But when it comes to patient safety, and the fundamental importance of trusting your doctor for impartial information, it’s money well spent.”
Except who do you think will end up paying for this short fall of “millions.”
Here’s a link to the entire editorial.