Are you certain that your doctor is prescribing the best possible medication for your condition? Of course we all want to believe that. But there exist hidden influences that affect what your doctor prescribes. This blog is intended to describe a couple of them and what you can do to check.
You should ask your doctor 3 questions when being prescribed medications:
1. Is this the best drug for my condition?
2. Are there any alternatives
3. Do I really need this medication?
Insurance Companies can influence doctors to prescribe from the drugs they say they will pay for under your plan. These “formularies” established by the insurance carrier allow for you to pay the least amount but may not be the best drug for your condition. So, if your insurance company does not cover the drug that is the best, ask your doctor to intervene by writing a letter requesting that your insurance company pay for the drug that is not on their list explaining why it is the best drug for your condition.
Pharmaceutical companies can also influence a doctor’s prescribing habits by supplying them with Free Samples.
Medications promoted with Free Samples can be:
brand new and expensive
existing drugs approved recently for other purposes
new versions of existing drugs that are going off patent so the drug company wants a switch to the newer, more expensive product.
You may wish to resist taking the samples unless the doctor is able to entirely treat the condition with free samples. Otherwise, if you get a good result, but you still need the medication, you and the doctor may be less willing to switch to the less expensive version of what could have been originally prescribed.
If you wish to check your particular doctor’s prescribing habits compared to her/his peers in the same general area, go to a website called projects.propublica.org/checkup/ created by ProPublica, a non- profit organization dedicated to public interest journalism.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015.