doctor prescribing

CRANQUISVILLE, USA – The Affordable Care Act of 2010 brought many changes to the US healthcare (insurance) system, and doctors have already felt the impact in many ways – in their finances, their reputations, their blood pressure readings and their prescriptions. One component of the ACA in particular, the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, essentially severed the long-cherished symbiotic relationship between drug company representatives (drug reps) and prescribing physicians.  Now, 4 years later, one doctor is finally seeing the effects of this heinous governmental intervention: he’s running out of drug pens.

doctor prescribing
No clue what I should prescribe now

“The ink is drying up!  The springs are wearing out!” lamented Dr. Ebenezer Cranquis as he tenderly caressed a fat-barreled green-on-white pen with a faded “Nasonex” printed on it.  “I’ve had this beauty since 2007, and it’s just… just wasting away.”

“As a med student, drug pens were, hands DOWN, the biggest perk and status symbol around,” recalls the urgent care physician.  “You’d come back from a noon conference with, like, 5 fat yellow-and-pink Levaquin ballpoints in your white-coat pocket, and your classmates who skipped conference would be SO jealous!  I turned down my share of hot med school girls begging for my drug pens back in the day, I’ll tell you what.”

When word came down that drug companies were going to stop handing out pens (or anything else labeled with their products’ names), Dr. Cranquis, along with many other US physicians, stocked up: “Things got pretty wild there for a bit.  Drug rep visits almost caused riots, doctors and nurses pushing and shoving to snatch the pens, med students weeping as they pawed through the piles of discarded magnets and paperweights. Reminded me of the great Tamiflu shortage of ’09.”

Now as the last few pens die out, an unexpected consequence is popping up: doctors are forgetting what to prescribe to their patients.

“It’s embarrassing,” says Dr. Cranquis.  “There I am, with some patient yakking away about post-nasal drip or something, and I’ll subtly glance down at my breast pocket to pick a drug name at random, as I always did.  But nowadays, my pocket usually has black unlabeled pens in it – I mainly keep my precious Nasonex and Neurontin pens stored in the locked narc cabinet.  That’s when the horror hits me all over again: Why oh why didn’t I pay attention in pharmacology class?”

“It’s not fair!  How can anyone expect me to actually ‘choose the right drug’ if there’s no highly-suggestive pseudo-hypnotic brightly-colored drug-labeled pens close at hand to prompt my choice?  Hell, the whole reason they banned the drug rep merchandise was because they KNEW we docs couldn’t possibly make these kinds of decisions on our own!  They gave us crutches, now they’re taking them away!  What am I supposed to do, now: ‘Listen to the patient’?  ‘Use my experience and knowledge to decide what drug may provide more benefit than harm’?  ‘Try to convince the patient that NO drug is even needed in the first place’?!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!



  • Show Comments

  • Travis Taylor

    Jeremy Zahn Kyle Taylor

  • Travis Taylor


  • Shelli Dill

    My favorites are the pens that hang around your neck…

  • Megan Hedlund

    I forgot how to use those things once I started using EPIC

  • Casca

    Laws passed by senators currently on a ” Fact finding tour of Tahiti”- paid for by a lobbyist

  • Craig Vickstrom

    I miss the plastic Levitra pens that folded up, but were spring-loaded, and…erected when opened.

  • Mike McInnis, MD

    . I still have a box of crappy drug rep pens.

  • Keith

    Obama ruined this nation.

  • BT

    I had no idea medical news satire was a thing

  • Janet Shaw

    I know that pen. It was a goodie

  • Michelle Lynam

    Good thing you tagged me, as it didn’t come up on my news feed. But, I love those pens. My all-time favourite was shaped like a femur. Sadly it passed away some years back.

  • Monica Tran

    Miranda! Diane! LEECHES USA!!!!!!!

  • Dawn Descant

    Levaquin pens got top billing! Love it!

  • Rocco Arcieri

    Doctors using 12 sided dice to pick meds now that post-it notes drug rep fountain dries up

  • Andria Holmes Holt

    You guys are so hilarious.

  • Ryan Kaylor

    All part of the vast MU conspiracy. Ban drug-rep pens. When the ink runs out, mandate e-prescribe. Brilliant!

  • Wendy Harmon

    I still have my Viagra stethoscope name-tag. I’ll cry when it finally wears out….

  • Janet Shaw

    Michelle Lynam

  • Catherine Peirsol-Schipper

    no drug rep pens = theft of nursing staff pens on a massive scale by medical staff. I have a huge stash of drug pens still including viagra pens:-) Device reps are still allowed to give out pens so I’m not shy about asking for a box:-)))))) Apparently patients don’t think we’re influenced about which PPM or ICD they get.

  • Gina Smith

    ‘Try to convince the patient that NO drug is even needed in the first place’?! Ain’t nobody got time for that!“

  • Jeffrey Altman

    I actually had to lend a pen to one of my drug -rep visitors recently! ha ha. Sunshine act will spend lots of $$ to collect data that virtually nobody cares about. In the meantime, prescription medication prices are going through the roof, formerly widely available cheap generic drugs have become very expensive and in short supply, and medications are no more affordable than they ever have been thanks to all of this “do-gooder” regulation that was supposed to control prices and do away with all of this “evil” drug rep goodies like those dreaded pens!

  • Patricia Kidd

    So very sad.

  • Karol Rae

    Hilarious! Drug rep pens are the best!

  • Ana Negron
  • Erin Gerdes Chase

    LOL. Rosalyn Greg Kendra

  • Steve Sides


  • Alicia Brasse Godfrey

    Funny! Personally I don’t miss them you?

  • Jeff Abney

    Angela Corona Gorman, Troy Galey, Erin Gerdes Chase, Alicia Brasse Godfrey, Cliff Beck, Jennifer Roach Franklin, Jennifer Bales Mackey, Britton Barnes

  • Kevin Guidry

    Ahh Zyprexa…How about a little Evista for that hunchback????

  • Elizabeth Morgan Pezzano

    They used to give us Velcro tourniquets back in the day.

  • Jessica Crompton

    Danielle DeFries Bellingham LOL!

  • Lora Ann Cullipher

    Because of drug rep give-aways, I never had to purchase pens for many years.

  • Ahmed R. Ibrahim

    Uh oh. What to do?! What to do?!!!!!

  • Mark Eccles
  • Khalid Manzoor

    This is from many years ago. The only thing that surprises me in the article is that Mass General got 287 million in federal research grants that year. That’s peanuts.

  • George Murray

    Whoever decided that banning the drug rep pens and other items should be burned on a stake. With all the fraud and embezzlement involved with politics they decide small and sometimes shiny trinkets are the devil…really? I just hope they never decide to try to reform insurance coverage….oh wait…

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *