, Muskogee, OK

May 2, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK — Must control financial benefits of system

— Treatments and options for medical conditions do change, some rather drastically, and this may even affect the medical professions financially. In the past, ulcer patients spent weeks in hospitals. In fact, ulcers were considered the one cost of work to climb the business ladder. In 1982, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren determined a bacteria was probably responsible for most ulcers, but it took 10 years to convince the money hungry medical professions, busy treating ulcers, that were seldom cured but lasted through years of successive treatments. My wife had severe ulcers in the 1960’s sometimes requiring emergency treatment. Her ulcers lasted 20 years until large doses of antibiotics cured the ulcers.

Recently, a specialist ran numerous tests for me, some undoubtedly necessary. The tests were updated again this year, and an expensive prescription prescribed. I was assured my one test indicated its necessity. A different physician, running the same test, reported a lower score, assured me, even if the prior score were higher, he would not prescribe that medication without a much higher reading. This was also the advice of a third medical consultant.

I don’t doubt the sincerity and motives of most people in the medical profession, but I hope my medical providers are not being influenced by drug companies. E. Haavi Morreim summarized problems when he states, “Gifts to doctors from drug companies have implications for patient interests.” Marcia Angell says we are subjected to constant drug advertising and costs of drugs are the fastest growing costs of medical care. Free gifts and grants to medical groups do ensure more sales, and unless we find a way to control the financial benefits of our system to companies and providers, there will continue to be problems.