Friday, July 23, 2010

Drug Reps in the Waiting Room.


Sarebear has been commenting on our posts for years now, since the very beginning of Shrink Rap. She sent us a link to one of her blog posts on Pie-Bolar Served w/ 3 Flavors of Anksia Tea and the post was a detailed discussion about her session that day with her psychiatrist. Lots of details and lots of sadness and angst, but a wonderful glimpse in to what happens in a session with a psychiatrist. I especially loved that Sarebear started her account in the waiting room where she sat with her family...the psychiatrist was running late and two drug reps were sitting there talking! What does a patient think about when such things intrude on their care? With permission, here's Sarebear's thoughts on Drug Reps in the Waiting Room:

My psychiatrist was twenty minutes late today, which means that she got in to the office at 9:20, which was when she was supposed to see ME, but her FIRST appointment, her 9:00, was still waiting to be seen, so I had to wait longer. UGH!! She said, "I'm sorry I'm so late!!", and the other patient said, "Don't worry about it", but I said absolutely nothing . . . . . lol. Can you tell I was a little peeved? In early morning traffic, it takes about 35 minutes to get there, so we had gotten up early, and had gotten there 10 minutes early, even, not wanting to shave it right to the minute. I suppose everyone has an off day, though. It's still annoying for me, as the patient! Guess I wasn't very "patient", heh. While I waited, just after the first patient went in, a pair of drug reps, one in training, came in, and dropped off some samples in her back room, then sat down to wait. I vowed that I'd get seen before them, because patients are more important. They talked alot of business, and about where each of them had worked, and some of the details of the software they were using on the laptop, that they wish they'd had at the previous place, and stuff. It was interesting to listen to them talk. Drug reps are a sadly necessary "evil" of the medical practice, because they provide drug samples for the doctors, without which you wouldn't be able to start some of the initial doses of certain medications, and sometimes the samples are used to help some patients afford the medications, although they do NOT replace the pharmacy, not at ALL. The drug reps also provide coupons and promotions for the patients to redeem for free two week or one month supplies of the medication, with prescription, at the pharmacy, whenever their companies are offering such coupons and promotions, so again, these things are good for the patient's pocketbook, their bottom line, for being able to afford the medications, when the insurance situation isn't ideal. Obviously some of these don't last very long, while other programs will, say, take half off the cost of the medication for a year, but whatever can help the patient, is a GOOD thing. It's just, the whole salesman aspect of the thing, seems a little . . . smarmy. It also feels a bit intrusive, to have salesmen in the medical setting like that, but as I say, it is a necessary "evil", even if one wonders about the influence that they may have over a doctor's prescribing practices. The most ethical doctors will not be influenced, but no one is perfect. Anyway, sitting there for awhile, listening to them, I didn't think they worked for Pfizer, the makers of Geodon, the medication I had been reduced in dose after my recent bad experience on, and was here today to be likely removed off of and put on possibly something else, but if they did, I wanted to tell them I thought it sucked. So, I asked them eventually, "Do you work for Pfizer?" They said, "No", so I continued anyway, since they'd still have an interest, and they did, and I said, "Well, Geodon sucks". They said, "We think so too, we sell a competing product." I said "Oh, okay. I hate it, because I had unexpected side effects." They then expressed their regrets to me that I'd had a hard time, and again said that they didn't like the med. I thought the whole interaction was a little bit funny, hee. Normally I wouldn't, as a patient, have any kind of interaction with drug reps at all, but since my psychiatrist was late, and since they'd been chatting for awhile so freely in front of my husband, daughter and I in the waiting room (after all, this is the type of location that is basically their workspace for the whole day; that, and their car, so one can't expect them to just sit there silently), so their chatting had encouraged me to eventually strike up a conversation, since there was nothing else to do while I waited for the doctor. When she eventually came out, as she walked past them to the front desk, she asked them if she needed to sign something, (I assume as in, to sign for the samples they'd dropped off in her back room) and they stood up and handed her a clipboard and started talking with her, the one in training did. I wondered if he'd bring up with her anything about the competing product for Geodon, since he knew she'd be bringing me off of that one, and potentially on something else, but it seems they had enough discretion NOT to go there, which amazed me slightly, for salesmen. They just brought up the coupons and promotions that are so helpful for patients, and got the signed clipboard back, and in the middle of signing it, she called me in to the office, which helped let the drug reps know that she'd not be spending a lot of time with them, and made me feel like I was her priority. I didn't feel badly that she'd signed for the samples, because otherwise these men would just be sitting around for another 25 minutes doing nothing, when just 2 minutes of her time took care of the whole matter.