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    "When many cures are offered for a disease, it means the disease is not curable" -Anton Chekhov

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    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Bedfellows: Researchers are suprised to learn that doctors love drug reps:

    Researchers at the Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted a national survey of 3,167 physicians and found that 94 percent had some kind of relationship with the pharmaceutical or medical device industries. The respondents reported receiving drug samples (78 percent), gifts of food (83 percent) and sports or cultural event tickets (7 percent). More than a third (35 percent) received reimbursement for continuing medical education or meeting expenses.

    More than a quarter (28 percent) got paid for consulting, serving on an advisory board or speakers bureau, or enrolling patients in clinical trials. This surprised the authors more than the 94 percent of doctors with some sort of tie, which could have been as little as a mug or pen, Dr. David Blumenthal said.

    "I figured that direct payments went pretty much to people who were academic or opinion leaders, but it seemed to be far more common," he said in an interview. "The fact that more than a quarter of physicians are actually getting direct monetary payments tells me this remains an important phenomenon in American medicine and that the rules and regulations put into effect have not eliminated it."

    The surprise is that it's not higher. The way the drug reps act, you'd think I'm the only doctor in my area who doesn't meet with them. One drug rep once said very loudly in my waiting room so every waiting patient could hear, "Then how does she stay current on new drug developments?!" Which the receptionist duly related to me in a tone that suggested she was wondering the same thing. The answer, dear readers, is that the information from drug salesmen is no more reliable than the information you get from car salesmen. And even though I don't meet with sales reps, I do accept some samples, so even I would fall into the category of having a relationship with the drug industry.

    Here's the survey. My specialty, and my type of practice, especially loves drug reps:

    Cardiologists were more than twice as likely as family practitioners to receive payments. Family practitioners met more frequently with industry representatives than did physicians in other specialties, and physicians in solo, two-person, or group practices met more frequently with industry representatives than did physicians practicing in hospitals and clinics.

    What's most surprising is that more doctors accept free stuff than free samples.

    posted by Sydney on 4/26/2007 08:26:00 AM 1 comments


    The drug rep who questioned your ability to keep up on the latest information was using one of the oldest sales tricks in the book. This type of action reflects the low esteem the drug industry holds doctors. Recently we heard how your offices are just buckets of money and the drug reps job is to get as much as possible.

    I am not a doctor, nor am I a nice person. I would call this person's sales manager, higher is better, explain you understand the sleazy nature of the remark and inform them if this person shows up again you will have them escorted from you office. This will get action.

    Unfortunately placing the word "marketing" in front of any activity seems to make all sorts of unacceptable behavior permissible. We can lie, question people's veracity, with hold information, and divert issues all in the name of moving the product.

    I would hack this sales rep. Needless to say, I am not liked by salespeople.

    Steve Lucas

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 AM  

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