Drug Truths

A site devoted to teaching about drug discovery and development.

Respecting the Role Doctors Play in the Healthcare Process

with one comment

Why do people who attack the drug industry make doctors out to be stupid?

My experience with the Dr. Oz Show is now done. I watched the show that contained my appearance today and I came away with a variety of feelings. First, while I appreciate the need to edit a show like this, I was disappointed that a few important points which I made were taken out.  To be fair, the final cut did include a number of issues that I wanted to address. Yet, what was again hammered home to me in watching the segment titled “The 4 Secrets That Drug Companies Don’t Want You To Know About” is the little respect that doctors are given in the healthcare process.

I have a tremendous respect for doctors. It is incredibly difficult to get into medical school and so the academic credentials of med students are stellar. Then, they go through four years of medical school and another 3+ years of residency and then another year or more of study on a fellowship in their specialty. Only very talented and dedicated people get to be a part of this profession. And yet, to hear drug critics talk, you’d think that a doctor has little knowledge of diseases and that they are at the mercy of a drug rep to teach them the latest medicine. The critics make it seem that a doctor is only too eager to prescribe a new medicine especially when a drug rep offers them a free pen and pizza for lunch. Finally, a doctor apparently turns weak-kneed when a patient comes in and asks for a new drug as they are unable to say no to such requests.

Well, my experience is a lot different. Doctors are very skeptical of new medicines. And why shouldn’t they be? They are smart individuals who have a great deal of experience in treating their patients. They attend scientific meetings in their specialty and read the latest medical journals. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the medicines they prescribe and they know their patients’ conditions and needs. They also know that a major priority is “to do no harm.”  Why would they switch to something new when they are already successfully treating their patients with effective medicines?

Doctors seek new medicines for conditions where no treatment exists. They will be interested in a new medicine when current treatments do not work for some of their patients. They will also be interested in a new drug if it has advantages over older ones. BUT THEY ARE THE GATEKEEPER FOR THE MEDICINES THAT THEIR PATIENTS GET. It is not the drug company, it is not the drug rep, it is not really the FDA. Ultimately, doctors decide in consultation with their patients. It is this relationship that determines if new medicines have value. No amount of advertising or free drug samples should change this. To imply otherwise is to insult the entire medical profession.

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Written by johnlamattina

May 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. The following sentence is the one I’m worried about: “Ultimately, doctors decide in consultation with their patients. It is this relationship that determines if new medicines have value.”

    I don’t doubt the truth of the statement; I’m in 100% agreement with it. What concerns me is that as health care costs continue to grind away at this nation’s finances that our government bureaucrats will tie the hands of our doctors when it comes to prescribing the best drug for their patients. I feel certain that the wide array of drugs at the disposal of our doctors, particularly our primary care doctors, will be dramatically reduced. The ones deemed ‘cost effective’ will remain. Who determines which are cost effective?

    John C. Katz

    May 18, 2011 at 11:36 pm


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