No wonder healthcare expenditures are rising: People can’t chat with friends or watch TV without feeling they’ve received a diagnosis. The chart here reflects a survey of physicians by the Kaiser Family Foundation. As you can see, prescription-drug advertising prompts people to consult their doctors, but it’s just one of several factors having this effect. If ER ever goes off the air, will people make fewer demands on their doctors? It wouldn’t be surprising. Perhaps the doctors themselves are tempted to tune in to see how some drugs work. At least, they’re unimpressed by what they get from pharmaceutical companies. Asked how useful they find the information drug-industry representatives provide about diseases and treatments, just 15 percent answered “very useful.” Another 59 percent find it “somewhat useful,” while 20 percent find it “not very useful” and 5 percent “not useful at all.” Likewise, fewer doctors find such information “very accurate” (9 percent) than “not very accurate” (13 percent). But drug companies know better than to rely on mere information, judging by the fact that61 percent of the physicians have accepted “meals, tickets to entertainment events or free travel” from industry representatives.
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