Dear Cedric

Dear Cedric,
My doctor’s pen carries a “Viagra” logo. The clock on her wall has “Ambien” emblazoned across its face. Should I be taking those drugs? Is she sending me a subconscious signal?
Jennifer A.

Dear Jennifer,

As doctors, we do get trained in the subconscious. We know it’s an effective tool in treating our patients. However, the pen and the clock are subconscious marketing gimmicks not from the doctor, but from the pharmaceutical industry. And they are insidiously affecting the whole medical system.

One way to analyze the problem is in the context of the medical education system. Doctors need ongoing training. Have you ever wondered: Is my doctor’s knowledge outdated? Am I getting the best therapy for my problem? Could I be dying of cancer and my doctor doesn’t know it? Do I have cancer? What kind of cancer? Does my doctor even know the most current treatments for my obsessive paranoia of cancer?

Well, the truth is, she might not. Doctors only go to medical school once, and only at the start of our careers. So doctors need a way of staying up to date. What do we do? It’s called CME or Continuing Medical Education. As a Family Physician, I have to accumulate fifty credits per year. I earn one credit for each hour that I spend in an approved learning activity.

For example, I have just attended an approved medical education event this week. Here are some examples of the lectures I attended:

These people with GI dysmotility look sad. Don’t you think the woman on the bottom right looks the most miserable? Tell me I”m not projecting?

Anyhow, during the group CME event we sit in a large conference hall and listen to presentations. I’ll often hear six different hour-long lectures in one day. I learn, but I sure get thirsty and hungry. When each lecture ends, the doctors flood out of the conference room and into another room full of cookies, pastries, juices, and sodas. It’s a diabetic wet dream. But the only catch is that the room is also full of pharmaceutical representatives–“drug reps” as they are known—whose companies have paid for the food. These intelligent, attractive, and witty people give plenty of positive and filtered information on their company’s drugs. In addition to the food, they also pass out knickknacks—pens, pads, clocks, posters, calculators, stuffed animals—emblazoned with a drug”s name. Doctors go wild. It’s like a Red Cross food truck arriving at a refugee camp. Doctors fight over the stuff. And I’ve seen doctors carrying out multiple shopping bags full of the swag.

But, of course, these goodwill gestures aren’t goodwill. They are calculated bribes to sell drugs. Studies show that doctors are more apt to prescribe a medicine if we’ve taken gifts from the producing company. Studies also show that we will be casino spiele more likely to use that medicine even if there’s a comparable cheaper medicine available.

So these studies make doctors change, right? Wrong. One reason is denial. Doctors rationalize that the studies reflect the behavior of other doctors. We each think to ourselves that *I* wouldn’t prescribe irrationally based on accepting free tchotchkes. Pure delusion. The other reason is economic. The pharmaceutical industry pays generous fees to underwrite medical conferences in exchange for embedding drug reps in the event. Doctors would prefer to have a free conference and a room full of drug salespeople than the alternative of paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket for conference fees. What self-interested person could say no to that?

Clearly, the system is flawed, and it hurts patients. Luckily, many doctors and medical organizations are changing. A few have started accepting no gifts from pharmaceutical industries. That action will be the only way to finally clean up the relationship. Abstinence works in this case.

So, if you start observing the eerie fact that the drugs you take are the same as the drug names on your doctor’s pen, clock, or tissue paper box, you should wonder if you’re getting the right therapy. And you should question whether your doctor is a subconscious (or conscious) shill of the drug industry.

Dear Cedric,
My ear feels pressured. I’ve tried to use q-tips to clean stuff out. I’m not getting better. Some fluid is dripping out.
Vince V.

Dear Vince,

Sorry to hear about your ear. If you read the packaging, all “q-tips” or cotton swabs have a disclaimer stating: “Caution! Do not insert in the ear canal.” In fact, most packages don’t even mention the ear as a target for the swab. The box I own says it’s for “baby care, health care, beauty care, pet care, and crafts.” Why would you use something for crafts in your ear? The reason: its shape. Just as our bodies have bulges and holes meant to accommodate each other, the cotton swab’s design begs to penetrate the ear and be used in twisting, rubbing, and rocking motions. But as a doctor I can’t responsibly allow it. Please see your local health professional for help.


One response to “Dear Cedric”

  1. Stella says:

    Dr. Cedric, I’m addicted to those q-tips. Please don’t make me give them up. I’m a responsible user, I promise.