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ProPublica: How Patients Can Use ‘The List’ (of Docs and $)


Today’s news about all the drug-company money flowing to doctors raises instant questions for patients: What do I do if my doctor is on the list? What does it mean?

ProPublica, the public-interest journalism outfit that helped lead the investigation, offers some answers here. In particular:

Q. How can I be sure my doctor is offering unbiased advice about a drug?

A. If your doctor has prescribed you medication made by a company he or she receives payments from, you should ask whether there are any cheaper generic alternatives. How does the drug compare to others in its class? What are the side effects? Are there alternatives with fewer side effects? And importantly, are there non-drug alternatives, such as diet, watchful waiting or physical therapy?

It may be that the drug you are on is the best option. But sometimes a drug company will market a new, more expensive version of an established drug even when the older one is cheaper and effective.