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Invading the Sacred?

The LA Times has been running a series of articles on the influence of drug companies on doctors. Whatever the merits of the articles may be, I found the opening of one of them to be particularly interesting. Here’s the spin:

Now, perhaps my experience is different from most, but I simply don’t recall St. Peter being the receptionist at any of my recent doctor visits. I didn’t go through the pearly gates at the entrance, and the examining room certainly wasn’t a Garden of Eden.

So what we have here is an attempt to set up a straw man of some idealized past doctor-patient relationship, so that now drug companies can be portrayed as the serpents who invaded the garden.

Here’s my question: in truth, was a doctor’s decision to prescribe medicine really ever a “sacred transaction,” akin to some medical priest treating with us in the hushed confines of the exam room confessional? And if it was (and I have my doubts), what other factors besides drug company influence have changed the dynamic?

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