Posted tagged ‘pharmaceuticals’

The best drug discount card

May 2, 2013

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

I’ve gotten loads of drug discount cards in the mail to give out to patients. They look almost too good to be true—they claim to have no costs, and to provide discounts on prescriptions of up to 75%! Wowza, can’t go wrong with that! Right?

When something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

I’ve gotten these from a few different organizations, but they look similar. One is from “The Healthcare Alliance”, which has a .org web address on their letterhead—that extension is traditionally used by non-profits, but when you look through their website, they don’t claim to be non-profit. And in fact the .org address actually forwards to a .com site.

I found an exposé of their pharmacy discount card from a local TV investigation. The good news is that it does work, at least some. The amount of discount varies widely. On average, their reporter got a 23% discount off retail prices. But the card doesn’t really help people with insurance—it won’t cut your copay, and insurance drug costs are already negotiated downwards. The biggest savings seem to be for people without insurance, and only for some of the most popular generics.

The bad news: companies like this collect your personal information, including your contact info and information about the medicine you purchase. They sell this info to marketers who will use it to try to sell you more stuff. Now, you may not mind this, but you ought to at least think twice before agreeing that all of this personal health info is being sold. Marketers will know if you have diabetes, or hemorrhoids, or if you’re on a birth control pill, or if you’ve taken morning-after contraception, or if you’re on medicine for anxiety or depression or genital warts. To me, that’s kind of creepy.

The good news is: there is a better way! A retired-doctor-friend of mine, Rich Sagall, has set up a real non-profit organization that offers comprehensive, reliable information on saving money on prescriptions—and his site has a downloadable drug discount card too. Best of all, the Needymeds privacy policy is right there for you to see, and they do not, ever, sell or use your private health information for marketing. They promise to keep your health info private, the way it should be.

So: forget about those too-good-to-be-true discount cards from for-profit companies. You can save money by using generics and by taking advantage of the Needymeds non-profit, 100% legit discount card. That one is NOT too good to be true. I guarantee!

Can doctors be bought?

October 5, 2008

As recently published in The New York Times, Dr. Charles Nemeroff from Emory University has been accepting millions of dollars of income from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers without accurate disclosure. In other words, he’s taking money from the companies whose products he is endorsing and supporting through published articles, speaking engagements, and research. Lots of money, and he’s been doing it for years.

Dr. Nemeroff is no ordinary psychiatrist. He’s published hundreds of papers, and has served on dozens of corporate boards. Until recently, he was the editor of the very influential journal Neuropsychopharmacology—and is said to have been driven from this position after an outcry over a positive editorial over a medical device made by a company with which Dr. Nemeroff had financial ties. Again, no disclosure was made of this at the time.

This case is far from isolated. Earlier this year it was widely reported that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard University was caught in a similar scandal. He was recommending and endorsing an ever-increasing use of certain medications while taking millions of dollars from their manufacturers. In this case, Dr. Biederman was most closely associated with a trend towards diagnosing and treating bipolar illness in children with powerful antipsychotic drugs that had never been approved for this use by the FDA. (more…)