I like my doctor alright. He knows the basics of trans issues. He’s really helped me out by writing letters of support for trans-related surgeries. Whenever I say “no” to things like invasive examinations or vaccinations, he doesn’t give me a hard time. He accepts poor people insurance. He’s respectful and soft-spoken. He exceeds my best expectations of Western doctors, which admittedly aren’t particularly high. Fortunately, I have no real need of a doctor anymore except to prescribe my testosterone, because all my health problems disappeared when I changed my diet to organic and mostly raw. But anyway, like I said, I like my doctor alright.
Except… I recently found out he has accepted over $100,000 from drug companies in the last year and a half. One hundred thousand dollars, friends. It is hard for me to even picture that obscene stack of Benjamins. Like, what the hell, doc? My doctor is serving poor people but his bank account is definitely not suffering for it. This information is available publicly on Dollars for Docs, a website that makes sense out of the raw, often jacked up (ie, self-reported by drug companies) data from the government database Open Payments (which I first heard about from the brilliant John Oliver).
What is my Dr. So & So doing for drug companies that could possibly be worth that much? Well, the large payments of $1,000 to $30,000+ were earmarked for “promotional/speaking” engagements. I can only imagine that Big Pharma flies him somewhere to talk to an audience of other doctors (or maybe even patients?) about how wonderful the drug is, or something like that. Many of the other smaller payments are marked “food and beverage,” so probably those are drug reps taking him to lunch in the hopes of getting him to prescribe more of their shit to his patients.
Two of the drugs that he was paid in “food and beverage” to learn more about were androgen gels, which is relevant to me. It looks like one rep bought him a whole cow for dinner and the other one bought him Wendy’s or something. To his credit, he has never brought up changing my injectable prescription to those gels. I cannot do so anyway, because unlike most people, my levels skyrocketed when I briefly switched years ago– which I don’t recall ever telling him.
For shits and giggles, I looked up my previous doctor, who was funny and extremely intelligent, never once tried to push drugs or vaccinations on me, and who I liked more than any doctor I have ever met (with the caveat that I haven’t met Dr. Mercola in person) but who unfortunately does not take my poor people insurance. He has only accepted $128 in dirty drug money for “food and beverage” according to Dollars for Docs over the same time period. I imagine him telling most of the drug reps to fuck off (literally) when they show up in his office, whereas those guys are always hovering around like vultures in my current doctor’s office, trying to look like they just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog to drop off their samples.
For more shits and giggles, I looked up some famous doctors. I am not particularly a fan of Dr. Oz (he gets some things right), but the astronomical amounts of cash reported for him on Dollars for Docs was for promoting medical devices, nothing drug-related, and part of that was donated directly to his children’s charity. My hero Dr. Joseph Mercola has accepted $0 in dirty drug money. My future plans include changing doctors, and being significantly less poor.
This is not to say that my current doctor is a bad person. In his case, I’m sure he believes the drugs are doing something positive for people. I just don’t happen to agree. Drug trials are often blatantly fraudulent. At best I believe most pharmaceutical drugs do nothing positive, at worst they are harmful– and the majority are unnecessary with a proper diet. But regardless of whether pharmaceuticals actually help, as a humanist I believe it’s unethical to make shit tons of money off of anything that supposedly treats illness, because everyone should have access to that. It also makes my skin crawl that doctors are allowed to accept any money whatsoever from drug companies. It brings to mind how the tobacco industry used to pay doctors to say that smoking commercial cigarettes laced with poisons was good for you. Millions of deaths later, the truth comes out.