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Is Your Doc Being Paid by Big Pharma? Here's How To Tell

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I've been through a recent cycle with a sinus infection that started out as my usual seasonal allergies. Whenever my allergist writes any prescription for me, I cringe because the cost is always an unknown.

In this case, she prescribed both an antibiotic and a nasal spray. Well, it turned out that 10 days of antibiotics cost me $2.05. It was the cheapest script I have ever had from any doctor at any time. On the other hand, the nasal spray was $90! I had no choice other than to swallow hard and open my 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. They'll push drugs irrespective of cost because it pads their pockets. (I'm not suggesting my doc is one of the latter because she's not!)

But the reality is there were at least $3.5 billion in disclosed payments from drug companies to doctors made between 2009 and 2013, according to an independent news organization called ProPublica.

If a doctor is getting big money from certain drug makers, what do you think they're going to write when you come in? A script from the hundreds of generics that Kroger, Wal-Mart and Target offer for $4? No, they're going write the brand name that gives them kickbacks.

Could your health care provider be on the take? If you want to see, you can now run their name through the Dollars for Docs database.

Getting back to my antibiotics prescription, I could have actually paid zero dollars instead of $2.05 if only I'd followed advice I've given in the past. Publix pharmacies offer a 14-day supply of select antibiotics for absolutely free. Now that's a price I can get excited about!

For more money-saving tips, visit ClarkHoward.com. Money in Your Pocket. Advice You Can Trust.