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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Monday, Nov. 1, 2010

Is your doctor receiving pharmaceutical kickbacks?

Clark has been through a recent cycle with a sinus infection that started with as his usual seasonal allergies. The cost is always an unknown when his allergist writes any kind of prescription for him. In this case, she prescribed both an antibiotic and a nasal spray.

Well, it turned out that 10 days of antibiotics was $2.05. It was the cheapest script the consumer champ has ever had from any doctor at any time. On the other hand, the nasal spray was $90! He simply had to swallow hard and open his wallet.

Now, there are doctors who will write scripts in good faith without knowing the end cost to the patient. And then there are doctors who are on the payroll of giant pharmaceutical companies and push drugs irrespective of cost because it pads their pockets.

In fact, nearly 400 doctors across the country have received at least $100,000 from drug companies in 2009 and early 2010, according to an independent news organization called ProPublica.

If a doctor is getting a hundred grand or more each year from certain drug makers, what do you think they're going to write when you come in? A $4 generic script from Wal-Mart or Target? No, they're going write the brand name that gives them kickbacks.

Want to know if your doctor is on the take? Run their name and state through the Dollars for Docs page.

One Nevada doctor received more than $300,000 from drug companies. California has the most doctors (3,000) who are on the take. Perhaps there might be some legitimate reason why doctors would receive Big Pharma money, but Clark's not aware of one.

Meanwhile, the consumer champ likes high-deductible health plans. But it's very hard to comparison shop. In the past, Clark has talked about and as viable options for comparison shopping. But we're still not there yet for true customer-driven health care. We can't yet price with any accuracy between one provider and one facility before you receive care. If we really want a market-driven health care system, though, we've got to get it together.