Saturday, November 24, 2007

another doping scandal

This one involves M.D.'s.

In Sunday's NYTimes magazine, Daniel Carlat, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and the publisher of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, reports on his life as doper. You've seen these dopes if you travel our friendly skies. Although they pride themselves on being undercover, they stand out like a cop in a fringed jacket and a beard standing on the corner.

Dopers seem to make up about one-third of the flying public. They are a nervous lot. They pace just outside the waiting area oblivious as a child with a Brio train to the noise their roller luggage makes on tile floor. Too busy to read. They stop frequently to check the CNN banner scroll. They mime the movements of tv detectives about the make an arrest as they pull blackberries from their waistbands. In an attempt to shore up the weak running game of their fantasy football team they swing last minute deals just as the plane begins to board.

They flirt with flight attendants who know them by name. They know more about wine than you although it's unlikely they enjoy it as much. They are better looking than mopes like you, but unlike you, they push dope for living and this gives them access to luxury boxes, frequent flier miles, and turn-down service.

How much money can you make dealing dope to doctors? More than the Colombians make. More than Afghan tribal leaders make. And a lot more than you make.

For example, let's use Carlat's numbers. Carlat the Dope Dealer is paid $750 cash, given 2 tickets to a Broadway play, two free nights stay in a midtown Manhattan hotel just to learn about the biz from his dope-dealing mentors at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. "It's easy, you'll never touch the stuff." At a minimum this one drug deal costs the drug company (Wyeth)$1500. Carlat explains that there are 200,000 doctors in the U.S. in the biz. Two hundred thousand times 1.5K equals 300 million dollars. That's the low end.

Before his guilt got to him, in one year Carlat was richer to the tune of 30 large. This is the curb appeal of Weeds. Sure it's questionable, but I need a safe place to raise my kids and if I don't do it, then someone else will.

Thirty large times all the dopers yields 6 billion dollars. That's the upper end. That is what is spent pushing dope in the doctor's office by drug addicts known as doctors. The 6 billion doesn't account for reps who work directly for the pharmaceutical companies. For every dope-dealing doctor, there's 2 paid reps. Estimates are this accounts for another $5 billion annually.

Carlat wants us to feel as though he's taken an ethical turn by moving past the cynicism of the drug deal gone bad. Sorry for him. Sorry for us. He pays cash for a new car and feels guilty. We finance over 6 years at 6 and 1/2 percent and are grateful. He golfs, gets comp tickets to THE GAME, and his teeth are white. You're a chump for riding coach, for sitting in GA, and for holding out for a better contract.

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