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The documentary "Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety"

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The documentary “Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety” really opened my eyes to the impact of the pharmaceutical industry. It denounces the truth how pharmaceutical industry influences doctors’ choices on prescribed medications. Based on this documentary, we find out how pharmaceutical sale representatives use many manipulative and sophisticated techniques to establish the relationship with physicians and influence their decisions about treatment. Most of the reps do not have medical education and knowledge, and they are not qualified to give comments, which treatment therapy is the most appropriate. Unfortunately, doctors are not aware of it.

Reps are profit oriented; their goal is to sell the specific drugs. They use legal and illegal techniques to increase sale, they give gifts to physicians, provide free lunches, sponsor trips and free conferences. Doctors are very often unaware of these methods, which are a type of bribery for me, and they accept it. They are influenced by things like pens, free pizza or coffee… Pharmaceutical reps are sellers; they are not qualified to tell doctors what meds they should prescribe. Some medical environments try to fight with these unethical methods by introducing drug rep free zone, denying free medication samples and free lunches. The documentary raises the issue of unjustifiable inflating the costs of drugs.

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The Prescription Access Litigation Process, which is a national coalition, fights against illegal drug company practices and pricing tactics. Jeanne Lenzer, an investigative medical journalist, tells that some doctors admit that therapies are more harmful than helpful. Doctor John Abramson reveals that: Information presented in medical journals like The New England Journal of Medicine or Journal American Medical Association, are not trustful sources because researches/clinical trials are made by pharmaceutical firms. They are not independent and evidenced based. Doctor Jerome Hoffman tells that currently there are so many available drugs and this huge amount causes that doctors are not able to know all of them and the right doses. They selectively remember right name and dose, but they do not learn about side effects. And, of course, pharmaceutical representatives try to avoid providing information about side effects of medication. The job of reps is not to educate doctors or provide medical information.

Their task is: to push product against other competing products. We find out that one pharmaceutical sale rep is assigned to four doctors. Doctors should not rely on information provided by reps because this information is strongly biased. Paradoxically, doctors think that other doctors are affected by reps and drug marketing, but it does not apply to them personally. Documentary discovers the truth about clinical trials. They are designed not by independent researchers but by pharmaceutical companies who want to push drug. So they are not objective; results are manipulated and biased. In the past, most clinical trials were funded by the National Institute of Health.

The researches are made by profit organizations; drug companies take control of research and publications. It harms the public health, and patients pay higher costs of drugs. Moreover, articles are written by doctors who have a financial interest in the company or there are written by someone else and later signed by famous physicians. The interesting provided in documentary information is that some older medications, e. g. diuretics or antihypertensive drugs, not that they are much cheaper, they are even more effective and have fewer side effects compared to newer. Authors of the documentary talk also about the problem of advertisement prescribed medications in television and journals. The advertising is not enough regulated.

Food and Drug Administration do not require comparison new drug with other already existed, they do not require official information about how new medication works, what are benefits and risks of therapies. The FDA should serve doctors and patients, not the pharmaceutical industry. It is shockingly, that organization like NIH, FDA, CDC, and Congress with White House; all have financial profits from the drug industry. Patients are influenced by advertisement strongly; very often they insist to prescribe some meds and doctors do it. It is difficult to convince patients that some of these meds are not right for them and might be even dangerous. Drug advertising skewed what drugs people take. Authors emphasize that doctors must become more educated and aware of tactics of pharmaceutical lobbying industry and they role is to fight against practices used by this industry.

The article titled Too Many Meds? America’s Love Affair With Prescription Medication presents that half of American society takes medications, both prescription and non-prescription medicines. The United States is a leader in taking medications. The rise of prescribed drug use is alarming – it has increased by 85% over two decades. Unfortunately, it is connected with unwanted side effects. The costs of unnecessary and improper use of medication are really high ($200 billion per year). The author writes that society takes too many drugs. Many of meds are not needed; and very often doctors before starting pharmacological therapy should implement non-pharmacological methods like encouraging patients to lifestyle changes (changing diet, physical activity, losing weight).

The common thinking and expectation are that every symptom requires a pill. The use of multiple meds has a negative impact on health outcomes because very often it is difficult to identify interactions between medications. The author gives some tips to patients. Firstly, she proposes considering nondrug options. She encourages discussing medications with medical providers.


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