A new academic study details how drug reps use friendship (and, of course, other attributes) to manipulate doctors into prescribing their company’s medications more often.
An excerpt from the study, as reported by Reuters:
Reps scour a doctor’s office for objects Ã¢â‚¬â€ a tennis racquet, Russian novels, Ã¢â‚¬â„¢70s rock music, fashion magazines, travel mementos or cultural or religious symbols Ã¢â‚¬â€ that can be used to establish a personal connection with the doctor … A friendly physician makes the rep’s job easy because the rep can use the “friendship” to request favors in the form of prescriptions.
The study was published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine. One of the researchers was a drug rep for Eli Lilly and Co., but now works at the University of California San Francisco’s school of pharmacy.
Although it’s not exactly a big secret that drug reps befriend doctors to produce dollars, it appears doctors may be growing weary of the parasitic relationship. The Web site PharmedOut is a good example of physicians fighting back against Big Pharma’s influence over the medical profession.
PharmedOut is “an independent, publicly funded project that empowers physicians to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices. PharmedOut promotes evidence-based medicine by providing news, resources, and links to pharma-free CME courses.”
Sorry, drug reps: Doctors are getting tired of “giving you the milk for free,” as they say. It may be time to look for a more meaningful (as in honest) relationship.56