A common complaint by providers these days (in America that is) is that they aren't making as much money as they used to. (Aaawwww and here we thought the idea was to help people.)
Medicare has cut back payments, Insurers hassle them more, they have to improve their documenting by implementing electronic medical records. Equipment is getting more complex and expensive, rents are going up, the patients expect to be able to watch Fox news in the waiting room and cable is expensive. The Jaguar needs new rims, the new girlfriend on the side needs new breasts...What is a provider to do?
Well it seems the solution that many providers are using is to supplement their income by prescribing "nutraceuticals" to their patients and then selling them right in the practice.
The waiting rooms look like you are walking into a local GNC.
I have several problems with this.
1) Patients trust their doctors. (or at least we were brought up to believe we could)
2) Some of the supplements make spurious claims that have not been proven by trusted studies. (When it loudly proclaims on the label that the supplement contains Acai berry extract, your woo alarms should be going off like crazy.)
3) It states right on the supplements that the FDA has verified these claims. (this one always gets me, neutraceuticals are given the same classification as dietary supplements which is what they are. The only thing the FDA does is to make sure you aren't being given cyanide instead of what's on the ingredient lsit and to make sure rats aren't runnning around the warehouse where the ingredients are stored)
4) They are exorbitantly expensive. (usually at least 100% higher in price than vitamins sold at the local groccery)
5) The "nutraceutical" companies working their way into doctor's offices have complex multi-level marketing schemes where doctors get territories and when they bring other doctors on board they get a cut of the action. (but don't mention that dirty "pyramid" word. The pharmaceutical companies themselves should be in an uproar because they are banned from doing this very thing.)
Now I can't mention the name of one particular company due to my involvement with practices that have been sucked into this, But I can't keep biting my tongue about this any longer.
It is ethically wrong to fleece your patients with overpriced supplements, especially those patients on a fixed income by taking advantage of the doctor-patient bond. Your patient trusts that your recommendations are for the betterment of their health, not to fatten your wallet. Doctors should not, must not benefit directly from prescriptions written for patients. Aaah, but they don't write prescriptions they recommend. There is a difference right? They should explain that to the patients. Better off, remove the display cases from the office. While they're at it take down all of the pharmaceutical advertising too.
And while I'm at it, turn off the Fox News in the waiting room and let 'em watch reruns on the Game Show Network it will do less damage to their brains.