Written September 29, 2013
One random day last week or so, I was sitting in a Doctor’s waiting room. Wasn’t particularly paying attention to anything to much, just checking out my phone. It was a large room with comfortable chairs and reading material. You know, the usual Doctor’s waiting room fare. There was a couple reading on the opposite side of the room. It was extremely quiet. No hustle or bustle. The door opened just then, and this is what I observed and heard.
Two women in their late 20’s, possibly early 30’s arrived. Poised, polished and dressed professional. They inquired to see if the doctor was in. The receptionist looked like she knew what this dog and pony show was and advised the two women the doctor was in with a patient, but if they wanted to wait they could. Of course, they waited and promptly sat down two seats from me. Please note, this is a quiet office. The women had been chatting since the walked in the door and proceeded to when sitting as well. It was at the point that they were about to sit down that I noticed they were wearing name tags. Astra Zeneca. Ohhhh, a drug company.
This is where the story gets a little bit more interesting and a bit infuriating. That is my own opinion, readers take from what I am about to say and make your own opinions and or assumptions. The moment they sat down, the blonde who I will name “Sally,” started asking questions of the other woman. The brunette who I will name “Betty” was listening in earnest. I got the impression that Sally was training Betty on sales calls. The discussion began with the obligatory “the flight was long to the east coast, the driver didn’t show up to the airport, I was SO jet lagged.” Clearly, Betty was in training.
Sally at that point pulled out an iPad. It is my assumption that sales reps for this company receives one. Nice gig if you get a free one. I learned a lot during that ten minute conversation. She began to show Betty how is tracked during the day by her company with the program installed. It tracks physicians as well. Who they are, what their practice is, what type of medications they prescribe to their patients, what free samples they need and how many, who wants medication coupons and who accepts a free lunch. Yep. A free lunch. I wish every time I had to buy an expensive medication, that I was offered a free lunch. Bitter? You know it.
I would like to remind the reader once more, the room was very quiet with the exception of these two ladies. Just throwing that out there. It was at that point that Sally began to complain about some of her physicians on her route. “Gosh, I really hate giving out those medicine coupons.” Betty’s response, “me too.” I am going to make the ASSUMPTION and I cannot confirm this to be true, but I wonder if this cuts into their bottom line of the medications they are pushing the Doctors to sell. That is the only reason why I could imagine these ladies were complaining about this. Think about it, they are complaining about medicine coupons that people on a budget, poor families and the elderly use to help them purchase these outrageously priced medications. Callous much? Not sympathetic? You bet. It took everything in my power to keep my mouth shut without labeling these ladies callous bastards.
At the point, the conversation steered towards new medications that will be released for people who have Type II Diabetes. This is when the conversation livened up. I cannot confirm nor deny it’s a shot taken either once a week or a month because Sally and Betty were a bit sketchy on the details. Sally and Betty are absolutely stoked about the release of this medications that they can show to the Doctors on their route. I am making the assumption that this is going to be a real money maker for not only Astra Zeneca but for Sally and Betty as well. I felt like these ladies were sharks in the sea just waiting for the chum to arrive. It was borderline obscene.
It gets better. Sally’s voice got as low as it could go with her next comment. “You know, I heard that if people just diet, eat well, exercise, lose weight – that it would just take care of the problem.” Betty to the point of a whisper, “yes, I think I’ve heard that too.” Sally at that point says “well, I know that I am excited about this medication.” Again, the room is quiet. Although yours truly has a figure, I need to lose weight. However, just because I need to lose weight does not make me invisible and or deaf. I heard every word.
Readers, that’s what the Pharma companies think. They are NOT finding a cure, they are funding their paychecks, bonuses, iPads, trips to nice places if they hit their mark. The Pharma companies think that the general consumers are idiots and how dare the Doctors ask for coupons because that might hurt the bottom line each quarter. Also, a training TIP: An employee should NEVER speak of products not released to the public or complain of helping their own customers in PUBLIC when wearing a company name tag. Proprietory secrets do not belong as a discussion in a Doctors office around patients. That’s corporate 101 people. If these ladies are a representation of all Pharma companies, we the public are seriously screwed if that is the “norm” conversation.
Astra Zeneca’s second quarter profit in 2013 was $2.06 billion dollars. Fell 12% due to a loss of a patent and pressure from generic drug sales. Finding the cure indeed.