Rethinking Healthcare

Is your doctor in the pocket of suppliers?

Is your doctor in the pocket of suppliers?

Posting in Government

Patients should be able to determine for themselves how newly-approved drugs stack up against older generic equivalents, according to a new study.

Consumer Reports says that's what you believe.

In a poll conducted by the organization's National Research Center, 69% said drug makers have too much influence over their doctors, with 81% upset over drug kickbacks and 72% upset over doctors giving testimonials.

The research center is best known for surveys of the magazine's readers, which go into its product ratings, but the company's fast-growing health site also has the group conducting general health surveys. (The logo for that site is above.) The health site offers treatment ratings, healthy living advice and "best buy" advice on drugs.

It's the last which seems to be hot right now. Against a backdrop of recession and rising health care costs the survey showed many people doing dangerous things to save money on drugs, like failing to get prescriptions filled, taking expired medicines, or sharing prescriptions with others.

The publication's chief money-saving advice on drugs is to ask your doctor about generic alternatives to whatever you're taking.

Government is taking as much note of the growing skepticism as doctors. The FDA admitted this week it is thinking about filing criminal charges against executives of companies involved in multiple recalls -- like Johnson & Johnson.

The survey results also indicate many consumers might be well-disposed to seeing some comparative effectiveness research so they could see how well newly-approved drugs stack up against older generic equivalents, and whether treatments suggested by doctors are really worth the money.

Conservatives who have argued against comparative effectiveness as getting "between a doctor and a patient" might want to take a second look at these results as well. Patients may trust their own doctors more than they do the government, but that doesn't mean they trust their doctor, either.

Cynics, of course, will argue that the group's survey showing distrust of doctors is really meant to increase faith in its own offerings.

What do you think? Do you trust your doctor? Do you trust Consumer Reports? What must happen for you to trust either a little more?

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure