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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Drug swag - awesome or root of all evil?

So Mondays have been saved! Rather than a day defined by returning to work and the end of the weekend, there is now a shining light at the end of the tunnel - Boston Legal!

Boston Legal is seriously one of the best shows on the planet. Those of you who don't watch it need to start stat 1 2. How anyone could not love Denny Crane, Allen, Shirley, Jerry and all the crazy story lines is beyond me.

This week's episode brought up an important issue, as most episodes do. Using Denny's craziness, they delved into the topic of drug companies and they're insane advertising (as well as other issues, but I'm going to focus on this one). It's true that drug companies are totally OOC. They make bazillions of $$, cover up side effects and adverse reactions, which often leads to seriously illness or death (see the Vioxx debacle), and drug costs are completely outrageous and many people can't afford them. This point is one that I notice every day, as my clients' medications cost $2038401348343212432304982343 each year, and most of them can only afford the cost because of Medicaid (which means the rest of us are footing that ridiculous bill). Clearly, something needs to give here. An obvious cut would be the ridiculous amount of advertising the drug companies do. We're all constantly bombarded with ads while watching tv, reading magazines, sitting on the subway, etc, with medications we're supposed to talk to our doctor about. Most of them don't even mention an illness that they're supposed to help. In the ads that do mention an illness, some of them sound so ridiculous they have to be made up. Restless leg syndrome? Are you kidding me? And just before the patent on Prozac ran out, they created a new "illness" the drug could be used to treat... premenstrual dysphoric disorder (aka, bad PMS). This "new disorder" allowed them to re-brand the same drug, and thus extended their patent. Nice, huh?

How great would it be if all those damn commercials and ads just went away? And look at all the money the drug companies would save! Which they could (and should) pass on to the consumers - who are, after all, mostly the elderly and really, really sick (cancer, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, etc). This, however, brings up a horrible personal dilemma. While I can't stand the stupid commercials and ads, I LOVE drug swag more than any person should. Pens, tissue boxes, staplers, clocks, magnets, note pads/post-its, random containers, bags, cups/coffee mugs.... the list goes on and on. While I don't have most of these things, I do have a magnet or two, some cups, a few note pads, and purses full of pens. I just can't get enough. Working at the hospital was like a wet dream. While I was never there when a drug rep showed up, I definitely managed to pilfer many items from nurses who carelessly left them unattended. I've also been known to chase down a drug rep while at doctors' offices, the CSB, or anywhere else drug reps lurk. Clearly, a lot of money would be saved if these items were eliminated, but that would make me tragically sad. Hence, my horrible dilemma. Obviously I would pick more affordable medications over some pens, but damn... that's a hard pill to swallow (sorry... couldn't resist).

I guess this is one of many situations where you just have to put on your big girl panties and be an adult... Being an adult sucks : (

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