Chemo Drugs and Doctor Profits

Last week I “met” Julia Schopick, a patient advocate who has some good information for you at After Julia read my misdiagnosis story, she sent me a link to this MSNBC story by Rehema Ellis called “Cancer Docs Profit from Chemotherapy Drugs.” I almost fell off my chair when I read it!

If you know my story, then you know that after I proved I didn’t have cancer, I dropped in to visit the original oncologist, the one who had been so insistent I begin chemo. Throughout the ordeal he had been arrogant, pushy, and at one point lost his temper with me because I would not start chemo until I was very sure chemo was the only treatment that would help me (and even then, I had mostly decided not to suffer through it anyway). I accused the oncologist of insisting I undergo chemo because it was the only way he could make any money from me. It was a guess — a remark made in defense and anger — and now?

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4 Responses to “Chemo Drugs and Doctor Profits”

  1. 1 Julia Schopick February 19, 2007 at 5:09 pm


    You can’t imagine how honored I was when I logged onto your blog today and saw your posting. You already know how much I admire your work – so today’s posting was doubly flattering. I am very glad you feel that I added to your knowledge (which is already impressive!).

    In your post, you ask for suggestions as to how to get involved in making changes to a system where doctors make money when prescribing certain meds. I am so excited about this! As you probably know, this is a huge concern of mine, too.

    Also, I am sure you know that doctors are influenced in other ways – not only by buying a drug wholesale and selling it to their patients at marked-up prices. This, by the way, is apparently a problem mainly with oncologists. Other doctors aren’t allowed to do this, to my knowledge.

    But there are other influences on doctors to prescribe certain meds. One is the fact that they are wined, dined and “penned” and “penciled” to death with both small and large gifts by drug companies. In fact, many of their (“educational”) seminars are paid for by Big Pharma. (Please see Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD’s article, “Doctors Must Not Be Lapdogs to Drug Firms” at .)

    And then, there is the (I think) much larger problem that so many of the doctors who conduct the studies for pharmaceutical companies are on Big Pharma payrolls. David Armstrong has written several wonderful “Wall Street Journal” articles exposing this terrible problem. Two of his best may be found at and . (I have shortened both URLs.)

    Inspired by Armstrong’s excellent detective work, I wrote a 3-part article for my site, entitled “The JAMA Controversy” (, in which I quote from these WSJ articles, and go on to give my own thoughts on the situation.

    My conclusion: In this particular case – and unfortunately, in many similar cases – the medical journals that publish the Pharma-financed studies too often close their eyes to the fact that the doctors who conduct the studies are sometimes not really objective.

    So, is it only when prescribing chemotherapy drugs that doctors are unduly influenced? Not really.

    A sad state of affairs.

    Again, Trisha, thanks for your vote of confidence. Maybe together, we can help to change things.

    Keep up the GREAT work!

    Julia Schopick

  2. 2 gpawelski February 18, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Selling cancer chemotherapy with concessions creates conflicts of interest for oncologists

  3. 3 angela smith July 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    have stage 2 breast cancer was told they got it all, but they are wanting to push chemo really really bad. the dr is really mad and has called various people telling them i do not want chemo if i am cancer free and my nodes were negative and my scans are negative why chemo at this point? please give me so advice as i am really upset why do these people want to push this meds so bad?

  1. 1 Doctors Profit from Treatments (part II) « Every Patient’s Advocate Trackback on March 1, 2007 at 11:50 am
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