Medical journals: “information-laundering for Big Pharma”?

Whenever you read a medical journal article with a title like Medical Journals Are an Extension of the Marketing Arm of Pharmaceutical Companies, you know it’s a bad day for patients.

As a heart attack survivor who spends way too much of my time hanging out with cardiologists, pain specialists and other doctors who read these journals, I especially hate seeing this article written by a person like Dr. Robert Smith, who was himself the editor of the British Medical Journal for 25 years.*

Dr. Smith’s not alone. Consider Dr. Richard Horton of the medical journal, Lancet, who once wrote:

“Journals have devolved into information-laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.”

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Doctor’s kiss and tell tale: “My 1-Year Career as a Wyeth Drug Rep”

drug reps. fourbags

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat is a compelling storyteller. One especially compelling story, Dr. Drug Rep, was told in the pages of the New York Times Magazine about his own very brief career moonlighting as a Big Pharma drug rep.

Once upon a time, he explained, on a blustery fall New England day in 2001, a friendly sales manager from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals came into his medical office and made him an offer he found hard to refuse.

“He asked me if I’d like to give talks to other doctors about using Effexor XR for treating depression. It would be pretty easy. Wyeth would provide a set of slides and even pay for me to attend a speaker’s training session.

“I would be paid $500 for one-hour Lunch and Learn talks at local doctors’ offices, or $750 if I had to drive out of town. I would be flown to New York City for a ‘faculty-development program,’ where I would be pampered in a midtown hotel for two nights, and would be paid an additional honorarium.”   Continue reading