Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

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Everything’s for Sale

This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine has an article written by a doctor who used to work for a pharmaceutical company. He was paid to give presentations to other doctors, talking up a particular drug.

If you’re familiar with the industry this is nothing new. But, whether you are or not, it’s a really interesting read.

This, though, was news to me:

“The American Medical Association is also a key player in prescription data-mining. Pharmacies typically will not release doctors’ names to the data-mining companies, but they will release their Drug Enforcement Agency numbers. The A.M.A. licenses its file of U.S. physicians, allowing the data-mining companies to match up D.E.A. numbers to specific physicians. The A.M.A. makes millions in information-leasing money.”

Very interesting. The public is quick to complain about how much data the pharmaceutical industry gets about what doctors prescribe. (And I agree.) But I never understood that the physicians themselves – in the person of their professional organization – are complicit in this. According to this, if the AMA refused to sell their database, companies couldn’t track physician prescribing habits.

The doctors actively sell their information, not just permit it to be accessed. A pretty significant difference.

Like I said, interesting stuff. (If this is your sort of thing.)

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