[jan 2006] Bribing Doctors - Another Drug Marketing Trick by Chris Gubta

Further More Drug Marketing Tricks...

Here is a courageous letter in response to CBC Radio's Sunday Edition: A Conversation with Dr. Marcia Angell, author of The Truth about the Drug Companies (Sept 12/04) , This 22 minute Audio is a must hear.

Chris Gupta
Dear Mr. Enright,

The American doctor you interviewed last week about her book on pharmaceutical companies and their methods of promoting their products, failed to emphasize the relentless marketing directed at family doctors I have been offered everything from free golf games to week-ends in resort hotels, from free tickets for theatre festivals to dinner cruises. The evening invitations to the most expensive local restaurants arrive once or twice a week, let alone the free lunches which are mine for the asking. The most 1 have to do is sit through a half hour presentation of a company's product.

In the not too distant past companies sponsored lectures by specialists for family doctors which were interesting and informative with only a passing reference to a company product. Now specialists have become little more than paid 'shill' for pharmaceutical companies'. In many cases the slides they use to illustrate their lectures have been supplied by the pharmaceutical company. The topics are all the same as companies are vying for the same lucrative markets. Personally I never want to hear another lecture about cholesterol and the wonderful statin drug I should be using. Their research figures are manipulated to turn a two per cent improvement into a fifty per cent improvement. Graphs are doctored by altering the scales to show substantial improvements where none exist.

The relentless promoting of asthma medications with lecture after sponsored lecture on the subject over nearly five years resulted in practically every child under twelve being prescribed very powerful steroid inhalers at huge cost, when cheaper and milder generic alternatives would have been suitable, or in many cases no medication at all was necessary. Now there is no generic steroid inhaler available in the pharmacies even if I want to prescribe one. Steroids have been available since my medical school days in the sixties, and yet we are paying out fifty to hundred dollars for asthma inhalers containing minuscule amounts of a class of drugs that are forty years old.

The pharmaceutical industry is the monster that is devouring medicare. No wonder provincial politicians want to off load drug costs on the Federal Government. Politicians won't stand up to the pharmaceutical lobby that is financing their campaigns and employing their constituents, the medical associations are silent because they know their membership would rise in anger if their free perqs were threatened, and the professional medical journals are silent because they owe their existence to pharmaceutical advertising revenue.

Dr. Paul Cary
M.B.B.S., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.R.C.O.G.


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