New Study Suggests Relationships Between Doctors and Drug Reps May Be Leading to Higher Drug Costs, The Canadian Pharmacy Advises Americans to Discuss Alternatives

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With drug costs spiraling out of control, a new study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine suggests one way to reduce drug costs - breaking up the traditional relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical representatives. The Canadian Pharmacy, an online pharmacy located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, recommends that patients always discuss their medication options with their physicians and ask if a cheaper generic medication is available.

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American patients should always ask their doctors if a suitable generic alternative of their medication is available.

A report published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine analyzed the current relationship between representatives from pharmaceutical companies and physicians to find out if it was possible to lower drug costs by ending this relationship. The report came about when researchers at the University of Washington, Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University took a look at the steps one Oregon private practice clinic followed to eliminate pharmaceutical representatives from the practice as well as the ultimate outcome of the experiment.

When patients meet with a physician and are diagnosed with a potentially scary new condition, they are often grateful to be presented with a prescription for the latest medication to treat the condition, a glossy pamphlet explaining both their condition and the benefits of taking the medication, and a small supply of the medication itself from the doctor's samples cabinet. What they aren't seeing is the elaborate marketing scheme behind the pamphlet and the samples. They also may not realize that those free samples could end up costing them big bucks in the end.

At one time, drug reps provided a useful service. Doctors are busy and often overbooked and overworked, which can make it difficult to attend seminars and conduct their own research to learn about advances in medications and new treatments being developed. Drug reps would drop in, and doctors could take a few minutes between patients to learn about the new drugs and stay on top of recent developments.

Today, thanks to advances in communications technology, information is easier to access and more readily available than ever. While this could render the drug rep obsolete, the pharmaceutical companies have instead increased the number of drug reps making the rounds and increased direct-to-consumer marketing, creating a desire for the latest and greatest medication with a known brand name.

The medical practice analyzed in the study reported a stunning 199 visits by a drug representative in just six months. Each visit, of course, was accompanied by literature produced by the drug companies, free samples to give to patients and gifts for the medical providers. Providers obviously benefit from these relationships, which directly influence the medications being prescribed to patients.

When the researchers took a look at the samples cabinet of the practice in the study, they found that out of the 46 medications that were stocked, 38 of them had less expensive generic versions available. The difference in price between brand name medications and their generics can be remarkable. For example, The Canadian Pharmacy, an online pharmacy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, offers a three-month supply of the popular medication Effexor XR for $222. By choosing the generic form of this medication, patients can save about $80.

The report ultimately concluded that halting the drug rep/provider relationship could create a real opportunity for savings for patients, but because the change requires a large culture shift and a major change in the status quo, it may prove difficult for many practices to achieve. In the meantime, physicians should make the effort to seek drug information from unbiased, peer-reviewed sources rather than relying on literature provided by the pharmaceutical company itself.

While buying, your prescription drugs online can help lower patients’ drug costs; saving money on your prescriptions actually starts when the patient is at the doctor’s office. David Zimmer, President of TheCanadianPharmacy.com has a suggestion to help patients cut their drug costs considerably: “American patients should always ask their doctors if a suitable generic alternative of their medication is available. Ask your doctor about generics even if you've been taking the medication for a while because new generics are constantly hitting the market.”

For more than 10 years, The Canadian Pharmacy has been helping patients in Canada, the U.S. and around the world purchase their prescription drugs online simply and affordable.

About The Canadian Pharmacy:

The Canadian Pharmacy’s mission is to provide patients with a safe and affordable way to purchase prescription medications and other pharmaceutical products online. The pharmacy is certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association and the Manitoba International Pharmacy Association and is a member of the Better Business Bureau. PharmacyChecker.com rated The Canadian Pharmacy with a 5-Check rating.

The Canadian Pharmacy’s mission is to provide safe, affordable access to high quality pharmaceutical products and services.

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David Zimmer
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