According to the results of a national survey, virtually all doctors asked reported some sort of financial relationship with medically related industries such as pharmaceutical companies.

The financial connections ranged from free lunches to payments for consulting and lecturing.

The survey was sent to more than 3,000 practicing anesthesiologists, cardiologists, family practitioners, general surgeons, internists and pediatricians, and just over half responded. Some 94 percent of the respondents acknowledged some kind of relationship with the drug industry, although 80 percent of them primarily accepted free food or drug samples.

However, research has shown that even inexpensive gifts can influence behavior.

In addition, more than one-third of the respondents were paid by the drug industry to travel to professional meetings or attend medical education classes. Family practitioners said they met an average of 16 times a month with industry reps, the most of any specialty surveyed. However, cardiologists were more than twice as likely as family practitioners to receive direct payments from industry.

Doctors were more likely to receive payments from industry if they were male, had any role in training doctors or developing medical guidelines, or had few uninsured patients or patients on Medicaid.

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 356, No. 17, April 26, 2007: 1742-1750 (Free Full-Text Study)

USA Today April 26, 2007

Washington Post April 29, 2007

 Dr. Mercola’s Comment:

Many may not realize that I too was a paid consultant for a drug company. I was hired by them to promote the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy, and they flew me around the country to lecture to physician groups and paid me a healthy stipend.

But that was over 20 years ago, well before I found my path onto natural medicine. But the trend certainly continues today with nearly all conventionally trained physicians who are as equally clueless as I was when I first graduated medical school.

Despite some reports to the contrary, this landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed what all of us already knew: Drugmakers and medical device manufacturers have bought and paid for your doctors, with incentives ranging from the tiny perks to enormous fees. (Incidentally, one very absurd factoid, among many: Health professionals were sent checks for $20 just for being sent this survey.)

This is a VERY common practice, and I can recall receiving many dozens of these checks or actual currency in the mail. However, I haven’t received any in this century that I can recall.

Although some physicians interviewed for various articles about these insane study results disputed any differences in their prescribing patterns, I wouldn’t take them at their word based on a study I posted recently about the influence drug reps have on convincing your doctor to prescribe Neurontin for off-label uses. One researcher on that study was amazed at “how effective a very brief visit by a drug representative — most often less than five minutes — can be in influencing physicians’ choices to use a drug for an unapproved indication.”

Drug companies shell out $4 billion each year in the United States to advertise directly to consumers on the television and print media. But that is small potatoes when it comes to what they spend on marketing to physicians. They spend $16 billion each year to directly influence doctors. That is $10,000 for every single physician in the United States.

Meanwhile, the sad fact of the matter is, most of the drugs being prescribed by these compromised doctors are useless at best and outright dangerous at worst, which is why the drug companies have to spend so much money to convince doctors to prescribe them and patients to use them.

A growing number of you have already realized the “shell game” being played with your health. But that having been said, the battle is merely beginning.

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