The back pain industry is comprised of a huge conglomerate of back doctors, personal injury attorneys, orthotic manufacturers, drug companies and back pain relief product suppliers.
Back pain is big business. These companies and professionals make billions of dollars every year treating the various common forms of back ache. Since the back pain epidemic is always on the rise, business is very, very good.
This editorial takes an in-depth look at the business side of chronic pain treatment and exposes some serious ethical conflicts in the typical therapy agenda.
Doctors are the middlemen between the drug companies and the customers (patients). They are the individuals who will determine the proper drugs, treatments or products for a patient’s particular needs. Doctors want what is best for their patients. Doctors also want to be financially successful.
Drug companies influence the way doctors commonly treat back pain. These pharmaceutical conglomerates offer large payouts to doctors who prescribe their products. Sometimes this payout is in the form of cash, but more often it is a donation to the doctor’s facility or a grant for research.
There is nothing wrong with a mutually beneficial business arrangement, unless it violates the standards of good medicine. If the doctor would normally prescribe a drug for a particular patient anyway, then a small kick-back is harmless.
However, when doctors start to prescribe a drug across the board to all their patients, regardless of real need, then we have a real moral, ethical and legal problem.
Misdiagnosed back pain is a common occurrence. It is wise for any patient who has endured several unsuccessful treatments to move on for a second opinion. After all, if the diagnosis is not accurate, then the treatment has no chance of working. The problem comes once the new doctor learns of the original diagnosis. It is rare that one doctor will contradict the diagnosis of another medical colleague.
I have personally seen doctors go along with diagnoses that were obviously incorrect, as well as back peddle on their own diagnostic thoughts once they found out that another doctor diagnosed a completely different condition.
There is nothing wrong with supporting fellow practitioners, but to get on board with an incorrect diagnosis is bad medicine and criminal malpractice.
Believe it or not, I am a devout supporter of the medical system, despite its flaws. It still represents the height of society’s knowledge and compassion. I salute doctors who devote their lives to helping others, even if profit is the main motivating factor for some. There is nothing wrong with making a living helping others.
However, doctors who put money above the needs and safety of their patients are the problem. Some doctors merely lose their way and put the product, drug or service above the physical needs of the patient. This is the reason for the steady rise in back pain statistics. There are simply more and more patients involved in ongoing, yet unsuccessful treatment, than are ever actually cured.
This has become a huge burden to the insurance industry and of course to the actual patients and their families.
Treatment agenda is the main problem with this industry. There is far too much emphasis on symptomatic relief, rather than curing the root cause of the pain. Money will never be spent to develop better cures, since treatment is far too profitable.
If you learn about the big pharmaceutical companies, you will see they have tremendous political power. The profit margin is gigantic for patented products and they have the government over a barrel. The government would like to tax these products at a far higher rate, as well as regulate the cost to the patient.
However, big drug companies always offer the same excuse to avoid the tax and regulation. If you tax us too much, we will stop researching and developing new products. This threat is good business, but also places medicine 2 steps back, instead of 1 step forward, in the quest to improve treatments and cures for all diseases.
Drug companies are motivated by $$$. Money can have a powerful voice, especially to young doctors looking to fund their research. The companies make a good argument for their product, the doctor gets on board, and everyone is happy. Everyone except the patient, that is. They unfortunately wind up in an ongoing treatment routine that offers them no chance for an actual cure. Instead, they become addicted to pain relief drugs and now have another chronic problem to contend with.
This article is not a criticism. It is merely a fact.