Ask Your Doctor to Opt Out


We can have excellent quality healthcare. We can have universal coverage. And we can make it affordable. Now choose which two you want. The problem is when you try to fit all three into one model it's impossible. I wish I had the solution, but there is one thing all physicians can do to decrease the acceleration of healthcare spending — restrict your prescribing data from drug companies.

Starting in October 2007, my Allegra drug rep came in the office selling Xyzal, the new antihistamine that is derived from Zyrtec. Wait, you mean the Allegra rep, who spent the last 10 years criticizing Zyrtec is now promoting the new, improved Zyrtec? Yep.

In December 2007, Zyrtec went generic and then over-the-counter. Allegra went generic last year. Generic drugs can save you money, and they save your insurance company even more money. But every allergist, ENT, internist, and family practitioner is going to get a visit from the Xyzal rep. They will try to convince us that Xyzal, at $3 a pill, is better than generic Allegra or generic Zyrtec, both available at a fraction of the cost.

For a few of my tough-to-treat patients with hives, they're right. Xyzal will be an absolute blessing. But, Xyzal has no business being promoted to doctors as the next blockbuster allergy medicine. Drug companies purchase physician prescribing data and tell their drug reps which doctors are prescribing what medicine at what rate. That way, they can zero in on doctors who are "underperforming." New Hampshire and other states are suing to outlaw the practice, but the drug companies are hiding behind the First Amendment.

Here's how we can fight back. Ask your doctor to opt out by having their prescribing data restricted. They can easily register and opt out at AMA. They'll need to register, but there's a link to set up an account. If enough doctors opt out, drug companies will have a harder time driving up the cost of American healthcare.

Note: Information contained in this article should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified allergist to address individual medical needs.

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