Dermatology is like the dark side of The Force

I saw a dermatologist yesterday, just to make sure a new mole wasn’t cancerous.  (Hello, family history of melanoma!)   And I have to admit, derm started to look like a pretty sweet career – and not because skin is that interesting to me.  At least, I’m fairly certain I’ve never said the words “skin” and “interesting” in the same sentence – but somewhere between the elevator and the lobby I decided I could easily be persuaded.

All the doctors came into the waiting room to greet their own patients, everyone looked happy, and the waiting room was criminally expensive-looking. They might as well have just thrown $100 bills at the walls and put up a sign that said, “Haha, as a practice, we’re so rich we just can’t fit these things in our wallets anymore”.  Lo, this was surely the promised land of medicine.

Doctor:  Hi!  What brings you in today?
Me:  Oh, my internist suggested this mole be checked out by “someone who actually knows what they’re doing.”  He’s comforting like that.
Doctor:  Hmm.  Yeah, that’s not cancerous – but come back if it changes.  Anything else?  *reaches for doorknob*
Me:  (... There is no way in hell I am having a 30 second appointment after spending an hour on the subway.)  Uhh.. Yes!  Yes there is.
Doctor:  Oh?
Me:  Could I get a prescription for my acne?
Doctor:  Oh!  Okay.  *looks at my face*  Hmm, it’s very mild.  Are you just highly motivated?
Me:  Yes.  (No. But what the hell, this specialty looks tempting, and I would need a perfect face to match into it. I think.)
Doctor:  In that case, I’d suggest Epiduo.  Here, have a fist-full of tiny samples and a prescription!  And here’s a coupon that will make the full bottle free!
Me:  Oh, super cool.

But I couldn’t find the ‘catch’ on the coupon.  I spent the train ride home trying to figure out why the hell a pharm company would give their product away for free.  I mean, what kind of strategy is that?  I decided it had either recently lost market share due to horrible side-effects, or it was new.

Then I looked it up online.  No, it hadn’t lost market share, and it wasn’t new.  But each subsequent bottle will cost me $100.

…. So that strategy makes sense now.

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11 thoughts on “Dermatology is like the dark side of The Force

  1. I read something the other day to the effect that pharm companies will give coupons that cover a patient’s costs… and then rake in the money from the insurance company, which otherwise would have been paying for a generic.

  2. I can’t understand how any physician could be content with a specialty in which they only spend 30 seconds with their patients. Although…I’m sure in a year or two the money will be enough motivation that I’d jump at a career like that.

  3. I saw a Grey’s Anatomy episode where the surgical residents were tempted by a ‘relaxing’ career in Dermatology. Reading this entry reminded me of that. 🙂

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