Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Point/Counterpoint: Industry-Sponsored Meals for Physicians.....

The Declining Quality of Drug Company Sponsored Dinners is Really Pissing Me Off

By Chevy Newbank MD
West Jefferson Medical Center
Metarie, LA

Is it just me, or are drug companies phoning it in these days? I remember just a few years ago when, in exchange for my presence at a discussion of a new or existing pharmaceutical agent, I could expect a gourmet meal with expertly chosen wine at a fine restaurant. Now I'm happy to get a dry steak and a glass of lifeless and thoroughly corked 2002 Renwood Grandmère Zinfandel at the local Ruth's Chris. It's not just me, right?

As a physician, I have spent years honing my skills as a healer. I have cultivated my natural innate ability to comprehend complex historical information, assimilating sometimes subtle physical exam findings, and translating that into effective patient care. My time is important to me, and it's important to my patients. Is it really too much to ask for a chill-filtered 21-year-old Northern Highlands single malt scotch to complement my 20-ounce ultra-tender Kobe beef burger with exotic mushrooms and microgreens. No, it isn't. Or at least it shouldn't be.

I realize that the issue of accepting meals from pharmaceutical representatives is a controversial issue. But not if you really think about it. I make a living handling complex social situations. Dealing with people has always been easy for me. Other physicians may be swayed by free lunches, note pads, and trips to exotic locales, but my noble spirit remains untarnished and free, free to enjoy my crème brûlée of foie gras with tonga beans and imperial gingerbread pyramid with caramel and salted butter ice-cream without altering my presciption patterns.

Do You Have Any Food To Spare?

By Abebe Abdu
Village youth

Please sir, do you have any food to spare? Just a small mouthfull would be fine. The scraps from your plate perhaps? I am so hungry and weak.

I have travelled far from my village, on foot, to search for food. I happened upon the rotting carcass of a lion today, but the scavengers had picked it clean of meat. To think of the many days it might have provided sustenance for my family is almost too much to bear.

Anything you might be able to provide would be fine. I have so little strength left. Perhaps a morsel of your fine feast would allow me to continue my search for food and clean water for another day. I have never heard of foie gras. Is it some kind of plant? A grain that does not grow in my country? Might I try just a taste?

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