Rx companies should save lives, not data

In response to Joseph Conn’s “Data-miners unite in Maine to block ‘opt-out’ Rx law”: As a fourth-year medical student, I find it quite troubling that doctors have an uphill struggle to wage, just to protect their prescribing data, and in doing so, protect their patients.

It is bad enough that drug companies and their salespeople spend $15,000 a year per practicing physician to bribe them into prescribing more of the “me-too” expensive medications. And let us be clear, it is not “education” when they come to talk to us at lunch, and the samples they give us are hardly “free” gifts. It is all a calculated move to manipulate physicians’ prescribing of medications to maximize the profits of the drug companies and their stockholders. And as Merriam-Webster or any other dictionary will tell you, gifts given to people in a position of power/trust, as is the case in the exchange between drug companies and physicians, is a bribe, nothing more and nothing less.

Thus, it is ludicrous that within medicine the American Medical Association is complicit in a system that creates industry-centered, not patient-centered, prescribing of prescription drugs. They sell data (for $45 million a year) on all medical students and physicians, a small minority of which are members of the organization. Their weak opt-out program, which is endorsed by the pharmaceutical industry, is so flawed that even someone as vehemently opposed to the practice of data-mining as I am would consider it a waste of time to opt out, except for the moral principle of the action. Opting out only says that the bottom-level drug company employees will be restricted from my data, but even that is a self-enforced rule with the pharmaceutical industry itself, with no teeth to it.

{A medical student points out the immorality of the billions in profits the US data mining industry makes by selling the nation’s prescription records, while people with devastating illnesses like HIV/aids cannot afford the medications they need to live.~Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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