Some laughter at an unexpected part of the conversation at the hearing yesterday… Senator Perata was detailing the various measures in his bill intended to control costs. For example, he stated that “we are in the freaking stone age in terms of medical records,” and said that we “are killing people” by not using modern electronic technology to deal with medical records.
Beyond his own bill, he went on a short rant about prescription drug advertising, and the large amount of money spent on the television commercials for “the little blue pill,” and the impact it has on health costs in general. He was very skeptical that as a patient he should be asking his doctor about any medication beyond aspirin. “What the heck do I know?” he inquired, wondering why he should be pestering his doctor about drugs, rather than the other way around.
He said if one looks at the sports show, all the advertisements are for “beer, cars, and pills–and not in that order.” With a bemused smile, we commented on all TV commercials “and all those smiling men.”
Not finished, he even interjected “you don’t see the women smiling, only the men.”
And then the conversation went back to health reform.
On a more serious note, one way to deal with the issue of prescription drug advertising is at the federal level, in a bill by California Congressman Henry Waxman, as described in this blog post by Steve Blackledge of CALPIRG. Not so seriously, he managed to invoke a comparison to Steve Martin in The Jerk.