My Doctor Took Money from a Drug Company, and Then Prescribed Me Their Drugs


Well, this is fun. Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization ProPublica recently compiled an awesome database of very compelling information. And as it turns out, I went through it, and consequently, have a funny story about it!

Recently, some judges ordered that the once-confidential amounts of money doctors take from prescription drug companies be released as the result of legal settlements. ProPublica made a database of these numbers, in a series called Dollars for Docs. And boy, is it neat to see what your doctors make from these companies! Especially when you find out that one of them prescribed you drugs that you didn’t really care for, from a company they’ve been paid by.

Like I just did.

No doubt, there are plenty of well-written words out there — including ProPublica’s — about how some doctors are basically whores for drug companies, and turn themselves into very effective middle men between yourself and your drug-maker. And it’s something most of us probably assume to be a sad truth of the American Medical Industry. But what about when you experience it?

It’s crazy! Especially considering that when some people sell drugs, like Marijuana — which is nearly legal in some places (and completely out-of-reach as a profit source by the prescription drug industry, everywhere) — they are called “drug dealers” and thrown in jail.

But when doctors do this with the drugs hoisted on them by massive corporations who also kick them some cash along the way, they are told they are upholding an ethical standard and given an office on the Upper East Side. I’ve always kind of thought a certain doctor I’ve visited is, shall we say, unnervingly pallid. Also, sometimes, a dick. So I looked him up in this database!

And oh, there he is! Click to Enlarge:

In the parlance of The Internet, “O RLY?

I’ve kept my doctor’s name out of here to protect my identity more than his! Also, I don’t want to alienate all the drug dealers in New York City. Though we might have the same doctor, so who knows? I say: look your “guy” up. If you do, you might find, like me, that your doctor is apparently an excellent public speaker!

In the last year and a half, my doctor is such a great speaker, he made almost $10,000.00 delivering speeches to drug corporations. Hope everyone remembered to tip their waitresses. Wonder what he talked about! I’ll have to ask him when I see him again to “re-up” on some good stuff in a few weeks.

But this can’t be that bad, right? As a writer, sometimes, I like to take freelance gigs. As long as they’re not in conflict with the one I have right now, or ethically shady, I’m allowed to make some extra coin. Why shouldn’t my doc?

Well, there’s an old newspaperman saying: I don’t care if I’ve got clowns covering the circus, so long as they’re not fucking the elephants. And it looks like my doctor is giving the elephant-sized pharmaceutical companies a reach-around, via yours truly.

Just imagine how differently I would have felt last May, when this doctor — against a healthy amount of resistance from me towards this particular kind of drug — prescribed me an anti-smoking medication (that’s also used to treat mild depression) called Wellbutrin, had I known he would total a take-in of $4,750.00 from GSK (who manufactures Wellbutrin) over the next year or so. I probably would’ve said something like, Hey! Doc! Why are you pushing this drug on me so hard? Is it because these guys pay your dry-cleaning bills?

Well, I stopped taking Wellbutrin after about three months, because quite frankly, I enjoy the hell out of my three cigarettes a day, I don’t enjoy random body-tremors and feeling shaky. Any other problems that medication would subdue I would, at the time, successfully seek help elsewhere for! And yet, the last time I was in his office, guess what we talked about prescribing me again? Wellbutrin. I haven’t taken it in months. I’m feeling fine, and I’m also much less of a smoker these days, even without the drug.

But just out of courtesy, I’ll have to ask him if this is going to be a problem at any point. For either of us.

Lawsuits Say Pharma Illegally Paid Doctors to Push Their Drugs [ProPublica]

Consumer Reports: Most Patients Worry About Pharma Payments to Doctors [ProPublica]

Dollars for Docs: What Drug Companies are Paying Your Doctor [ProPublica]