Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Physician identifiers and Pharma marketing

After receiving the umpteenth mailing from a prescription benefit manager (PBM) at my home regarding a patient medication issue, I finally took the time to write one of the managers responsible. Getting these at home drives me crazy. The misuse of my DEA makes me crazier!

Some info: I never use my home address in any patient related matters. The only reason the PBM's have it is because they use my DEA registration address. Why? Because that's how they track my prescribing, even for non-DEA schedule medications. Today's mailing was about a beta blocker, and they list my 'prescriber number' which conveniently is identical to my DEA. What a completely wrong and market (not patient) driven problem.

The FDA, DEA and multiple medical organizations have weighed in against this misuse of DEA numbers. There are great alternatives (like the pharma driven National Provider Identifier), but pharma is slow to adopt them. Why change when the old system works fine for them? Who cares if your number is stolen so easily. Narcotic abuse? - not our problem.

I just wish Pharma wasn't so friggen mercenary about this. All their talk about "best for patients" is complete bullsh*t when seen in the light of their marketing behaviors. And to top it all off is the conversation I have with pharmacists who are likewise stuck in the middle between the patient and their PBM - "I'm sorry doctor but the insurer won't pay for the medicine without your DEA number." This for a diphenhydramine prescription - an over the counter anti-histamine. And if I don't cough up my DEA the patient hears "your doctor didn't approve it."

Damn right I don't approve it.


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