Doctors Retailing Products To Patients

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I was a little unnerved by an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times this week that chastised doctors for retailing products to their patients. It specifically made light of skin care and cited the AMA in the debate, stating that selling product “undermines the physicians’ primary obligation: to serve the interests of their patients.”

If the interests of the patient are related to skin, and the doctor is qualified to treat skin, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, why shouldn’t the doctor sell, along with his advice, a product he or she believes is best suited to his or her patient? It is the patient’s choice to make the purchase just like it’s the patient’s choice to engage the doctor.

No question, there are doctors out there, and some who pretend to be doctors practicing medicine without a license, that are proliferating scams and shams. But good doctors who offer their patients good, physician-only products should not be lumped in with the snake oil salesman. These are doctor’s offering their patients solutions that don’t need a prescription and that they cannot and should not be able to get over the counter or without a physician’s prior guidance.

The whole debate becomes even more absurd by citing that in some cases physicians’ selling is warranted, “such as the sale of slings and crutches by orthopedists.” How is a sling to a broken arm different than skincare to acne or wrinkles?

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