Oh – This Doesn’t Look Good!

Two years ago I took a routine cardiopulmonary stress test.  I was 37.  And I “failed” it. 

Hooked up to electrodes I jogged on a treadmill.  And the rhythm of my heart alerted the specialist to a slight, possible abnormality.

The next day, I lay on a table like a pregnant woman, undergoing an examination similar to an ultrasound.  A day later, my heart set off an alarm during a CT scan when my resting rate dropped to 36 beats per minute.

But what do you think these tests revealed?  Nothing.  They couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart.  I was perfectly normal.  But the specialist, who coupled as a pharmacist, prescribed Lipitor to eradicate any soft plaque that I may have had.

Lipitor is Pfizer’s biggest selling drug.  Pfizer—the world’s largest pharmaceutical company– had sales exceeding $45 billion last year,  (Pfizer -Valueline  – report requires a pdf reader)  with Lipitor leading the way.  It’s supposed to reduce a patient’s cholesterol levels—of which mine were in a healthy, normal range.

I sat down on the chair in the specialist’s waiting room and leaned back on a pillow labeled “Pfizer”. 

When the paperwork was ready, I accepted the drugs, and signed a form with a pen labeled “Pfizer”. 

After I promised to keep exercising I left.  But I didn’t want to take Lipitor.  As far as anyone could tell my heart was perfectly fine.  So I didn’t take it. And I get a decent amount of exercise.

As an owner of Pfizer shares, I was somewhat embarrassed to think of the marketing “bribery” that I suspected went far beyond pens and pillows.  Why would a specialist prescribe drugs to a healthy guy?

I’ll never know for sure, but pillows, pens, and this article definitely have me thinking.

Read the Article: Pfizer to Pay Record Penalty


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Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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2 Responses

  1. Matthew says:

    All these promotional shenanigans by companies like Pfizer obviously drive up their products' prices, ultimately resulting in the absurdly high cost of health care in America today. To me, this represents the darker side of capitalism, for as much as I hate what's happening, I still think that Pfizer is a well-run company and sound investment for my own hard-earned money. Does that make me a hypocrite?

  2. If you ever get a chance to read Richard Branson's autobiography, you'll see how the "good guys" (Ok, the guy has to be a bit bias) can win. His airline's documented battle with British Airways, and BA's under-handed methods make Pfizer look like a pretty light touch. Pfizer is being singled out, there's no doubt about that. Are you a hypocrite though? I guess you are if I am. I own about 1000 shares of Coca Cola, but it's terrible stuff, not really adding a stitch of value to anyone's health.


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