A philosopher’s take on Big Pharma marketing

You may not expect to find an ivory tower academic whose erudite specialty is philosophy hanging out at drug marketing conferences, but that’s where you would have found Dr. Sergio Sismondo a few years ago. The professor of philosophy at my old stomping ground, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, turned up at the annual meeting of the International Society of Medical Planning Professionals, one of two large organizations representing medical communications firms.

A medical communications firm is a business that sells services to pharmaceutical and other companies for “managing” the publication and placement of scientific research papers for maximal marketing impact, often  running a full publicity campaign to help sell the drug being “studied”. This is an alarmingly widespread practice in which drug companies essentially decide what your physician will end up reading in medical journals.  Continue reading

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