The Legal US Drug Trade

I went to the dermatologist yesterday, and ended up taking on the US drug companies.

My initial mission was sort out an itchy scalp and spots on my cheeks.

Both problems seemed small in the grand scheme of things, so I had postponed the visit for months. When I met with the “Physician Assistant” at the Atlanta based Dermatologists Consultants, she told me I needed antibiotics to combat my red cheeks. She listed an array of side effects I would expect.

“Really?” I asked. I didn’t think my spots were THAT bad…. I convinced her I only needed a skin cream. She wrote me a prescription for a product that I later discovered cost $115!

I asked the pharmacist if there was a generic alternative. There was. In the UK, you get the generic alternative as a matter of course.

I mentioned that to the pharmacist. “Not here,” he said. “The doctors are all corrupt.” He explained that drug company representatives visit doctors’ offices, provide lunch for the staff, then explain why the doctors should prescribe their drugs.

Of course, prices aren’t capped, so they’re super-expensive.

I’d like to think that not all doctors here are corrupt. And yet, whenever I see a TV ad for a drug (and there are LOADS) I marvel at the money these companies have.

Drug companies can’t advertise in the UK. In some ways, Brits are missing out on some great entertainment.

I especially love the ads for erectile dysfunction drugs. There’s usually a couple, sitting on a beach, or lounging on a coach, with a Barry White-type announcer’s voice describing how important these drugs are to a healthy sex life. The best part is when the announcer lowers his voice to confide the scary side effects the drugs carry (“Go to the doctor if you have an erection lasting longer than four hours”).

Together with the pharmacist, I got the doctor to switch my itchy scalp/cheek spot prescriptions over to generic versions. So maybe we can triumph over the massive drug conglomerates, if only in tiny victories.

And I suppose it serves me right for visiting a dermatologist with an “Aesthetics Department.”

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