Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Most of our lectures so far have been pretty interesting but today we had an introduction to pharmacology. Despite the fact that it was 4 hours long (I think I now have a suggestion if George W was looking for a different method of torture to get around all those pesky rules and laws; something involving 130 people overcrowded in a overheated room with only really bad coffee available), I stayed awake and even alert. It helped that the lecturer is a researcher with an office right across the hallway from my lab so I had the added motivation of personal embarrassment if I dozed off. But it was also very interesting, not nearly as dry as I was expecting. I think the thing I liked the best was that it provides a whole different view of the functioning of the body. It has always fascinated me that a lot of what we know about the physiology of depression came from figuring out how the drugs that relieve it work. The lecturer also gave a little talk about the advertising and drugs. I had given some thought to the good and evil of advertising before but I think I was underestimating the patients. The argument in my mind was mostly whether the patient asking the doctor for these drugs was good because it is an opening for discussion or bad because it might pressure the doctors perhaps leading to over or inappropriate prescribing. Another potential problem is that an over-exposed, over-cynical patient population might become skeptical of drugs that had been advertised and even spread this skepticism to all prescription drugs. The thinking being that the prescription has more to do with profits and free golf trips then their well-being. I should have thought of this as well. I have a friend that believes all of the concern about avian flu is a political manufacture perpetrated by the Bush government to maintain hysteria while deflecting attention from the war(s) in the Middle East.


Anna said...

ah ha - another foolish person devoting their life medicine. Welcome to the club!

I struggle intensely with pharmacology, but the politics of drug pushing is fascinating. I do take free lunchs and pens and tourniquets etc etc from drug reps, but am I selling out by doing so?

(Loved the post on marital goals by the way...)

med neophyte said...

Thanks for the comment!

I don't have too much experience with the Big Pharma push but I spent four years in the oil industry. The graft was free flowing; everything from lunchs to theatre tickets to evenings in a box seat at a Flames game to fishing trips (I wasn't high enough up the food chain to be offered trips though). Lots of people would choose the companys they dealt with based on what goodies they could provide but most (and I hope to include myself in this catagory) would base their decisions on the best product and only accept small things from people that they would deal with irrespective of the 'gifts'.

Given the insidiousness of repetitive advertising I guess the only way to stay totally uncorrupted would be to accept nothing but I would hope a pen doesn't affect any considerate doctor's decision making.