Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Do you know who is paying for your doctors education????

All doctors must take continuing education classes each year to keep their license. This is much like the teaching profession. There was an op ed piece in the NY Times today talking about the link between the classes doctors take and who pays for them. Let me start by talking about how these classes work--as they are very very similar to the way this works in education. Many entities offer "courses" that offer continuing education opportunities. This includes university classes, seminars, workshops, etc. As in education, professionals sometimes deliver these courses, but many of the times it is not actually trained educators who write the course and decide what is "taught/delivered." In education, this is not necessarily detrimental. As teachers, we control what happens in our classroom, but we are not responsible for the entire district and no one's life is at risk--so to speak.

I was enraged to find out that more often than not the continuing education that doctors received is funded and written by the pharmaceutical companies. The courses are taught/delivered by actual doctors, but they are presenting from a script. They are often not presenting their own personal research and experience. One pharmaceutical company actually had a Stanford researcher released for presenting information that said their drug might possibly be linked with heart disease/conditions. This happened even though pharmaceutical companies are not allowed by federal law to provide continuing education for doctors--since the 1990's. They, of course, have found a way around this. The pharmaceutical companies financially support accredited continuing education companies with the understanding that their drugs will be touted instead of other drugs that might be better, but that come from smaller companies who do not have a lot of money for advertising and pocket lining.

Another disturbing trend is that some of the research the is presented in medical journals that deals with new drugs, etc are not written by the doctors who are listed as authors. The same companies that take money from the pharmaceutical companies for promoting their drugs in continuing education classes pay their doctors not only to read the script for the continuing ed offerings also agree to have their names listed as authors on pieces that submitted to medical journals an written by ghostwriters--who come from where? Yes, the pharmaceutical companies.

What a tangled web. What a sad state our health care system is in. When did we decide that our health had a price attached to it and that a for profit health care system was beneficial to anyone--except of course the politicians who get their pockets lined and for the actual company who is making the profit? It sickens me that this is what happens. I am saddened that we have allowed people to lose their lives and their loved ones because our system does not care about you if you don't have the money to access it? I do not think that our founding fathers thought that the whole "freedom for all" meant freedom to make as much money as we want regardless of how that affects the people our country was founded for.

So, where do we go from here? How do we take the money out of health care? How do we provide for everyone? I wish I had the answers but I don't. If only I did. I think it is important to look at other western countries and see how their health care systems work. And please politicians and pharmaceutical companies, don't tell me that we can't provide health care for all, because we could pay for it for years for what we spend in Iraq in one year and we have been their 5.

It is sad that we as a country care more about making money rather than taking care of all of our citizens. Does this sound like the "greatest" country in the world?

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