Here’s a news flash, people. Most doctors are not poor; in fact, they are rich. In 2008, the average physician income ranged from a “low” of $159,000 (family practitioners) to a high of $527,000 (neurosurgeons). This places their income in the top 5-10% of all American wage earners, according the health economist Uwe Reinhardt.
Doctors don’t speak for drug companies because they need the money to feed and clothe their starving families. They do it because it’s fun and interesting, provides narcissistic satisfaction, a social outlet, and gives them extra money for the finer things in life. The point of the editorial is that doctors should make their money by practicing medicine rather than by promoting drugs.
2. But how will doctors get their medical education if drug companies can’t pay experts to give lectures?
There are hundreds of medical journals covering every conceivable specialty—here’s one list of them. Likewise, here is a directory of the hundreds of medical conferences throughout the
3. You think doctors are greedy? What about congressmen and senators—look at all the money they get from drug companies and insurance companies. That’s where you should focus.
First, all contributions to elected officials are transparent and are available from a number of websites, such as http://www.opensecrets.org/. Second, politicians have, by definition, innumerable different consituents and interests, and it is appropriate that they receive campaign donations from these varied constituents. Not so for doctors. We don’t have different “constituents.” We have a single constituent: our patients. Our single professional responsibility is to treat them. On the other hand, we have no responsibility to drug companies to help them sell their drugs, and therefore we have no responsibility to accept money from them for that purpose. Research is different, because medical research is directly related to patient care, and so accepting drug company money for clinical research is far more defensible.
Kudos to the Boston Globe for taking such a strong and principled position on this issue.