I used to work for Pharma.  As a matter of fact, I was in love with Pharma.  Research on new medications was exciting.  Jack and I participated in close to 30 clinical trials, went to national investigator conferences and met some of the greatest minds in the country.  For many years, being a research site meant staying on the leading edge of medicine.

Then the government upped its game.  Research on patients always meant lots of paperwork and government supervision.  Often, patients had to sign a 50 page legal document prior to starting a study; and then, every 6-12 months, there would be revisions that needed new signatures.  Six to twelve-month revisions started coming every 4-6 months then every 3 months and became longer and more confusing. Eventually my patients and I refused future projects, putting an end to one of the most exciting aspects of practicing medicine.

As a clinical investigator, I often taught physicians and pharmacists about new classes of medications and new treatment protocols.  I loved teaching more than I loved research and I continued to teach for years after giving up on research.  Once again, the government stepped up its game and mandated the content of what I was allowed to teach.  No longer could I interact with my students, sharing my ideas and answering their questions based on my experience. 

Typically, I would be given a slide kit and told to read it verbatim.  The government’s goal was to eliminate bias so I would divide my stage into two sections with red tape and, on one side of the tape I would be Dr Segal representing Pharma and following government rules, and on the other side I’d be Doc Segal, discussing my opinions and experience.  It was actually a great approach; NOT (according to the government)!

Government rules were not taken lightly. Sometimes, the government placed monitors in the classroom.  After my last lecture the monitor approached/attacked me:

Monitor – You failed to read the slides to the docs in the room.  You offered your experience in answering questions instead of referring questions to the company science officer as required by government guidelines.  I’m going to write you up and there may be consequences.

Me- My audience are all senior level physicians.  They know how to read slides and interpret data.  I’m not going to insult them by reading to them.  I’m here to teach, not as a stooge, representing Pharma or the government. 

Monitor – You can’t do that!

Me – I thought FU but instead, quit!  

I miss teaching but, as it turns out, I got out just in time.  The press depicts docs who teach on behalf of Pharma as whores and charlatans. Pharma is no longer your friend or mine.  Pharma is big business and is out of control.  Part of the problem is the expense of dealing with the ever-increasing complexities of government oversight.   Part of the problem is the involvement of third-party pharmacy benefit managers.  I believe part of the problem is also greed.

Being a chronically ill, retired patient on multiple medications has taught me how ungodly expensive medications can be.  I’m on ancient medications that still cost a fortune.  I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but I know one thing you should always do: use GoodRxbefore you pick your medications up from the pharmacy.

There are several discount/coupon pharmacies online. GoodRX is my favorite.  In Illinois, my Mariano’s pharmacist automatically compared the GoodRx price to the insurance covered price and to the Kroger price.  He always saved me money.  In NC, the pharmacist simply charged me what the insurer said I owed.  When I pointed out that GoodRx was cheaper, he made an adjustment and I saved myself a little money.

While I have no solution to Pharma and our ineffective governmental regulations, at least I have a partial solution to the cost of medication.

The TV is playing in the background as I write this.  Renee is getting her morning dose of news. In the last 45 minutes, I’ve heard 5 commercials for medications.  I’ve cringed five times.  Why not prohibit Pharma’s TV advertisements and reallocate the money saved in order to lessen the cost of their medications?

I hate PHARMA’s commercials. That’s a topic for another day.  

Here’s your music video for the day.

Here’s your joke:

A Pollak was suffering from constipation, so his doctor
prescribed suppositories. A week later the Pole complained to the doctor that they didn’t produce the desired results. 
“Have you been taking them regularly?” the doctor asked. 
“What do you think I’ve been doing,” the Pole said, “Shoving them up my ass?”

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