Key Opinion Leaders in medicine are paid to have an opinion

It seems that there are enough physicians out there who aren’t even a tiny bit embarrassed about referring to themselves out loud as “Thought Leaders” or “Key Opinion Leaders” to keep Canada’s Dr. Sergio Sismondo busy writing about them.

I first wrote about his work in A Philosopher’s Take on Big Pharma Marketing. Focusing on what he calls the pharmaceutical industry’s “corruption of medical knowledge”, the Queen’s University professor now has a new paper in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

In it, he warns us about physicians and academic researchers who willingly become financially enmeshed in Big Pharma’s marketing efforts:(1)  Continue reading

How other doctors (but not you, of course) are influenced by Big Pharma

The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars each year on handing out free samples of their expensive brand name drugs to physicians, who in turn hand them out to their patients.  As I’ve written about here and here, the obvious marketing truth is that no company would be doing this unless the strategy resulted in a significant increase in sales of those drugs.  When you’re looking at a global market for pharmaceuticals expected to top $1.1 trillion by next year, that’s a substantial incentive to keep up this practice. Still, very few physicians believe that doctors accepting billions of dollars in free drug samples annually has the slightest bit of influence on the way they practice medicine. Except, of course, when it’s those other docs out there who are accepting the freebies.  Continue reading

Big Pharma’s remarkable powers of persuasion

Do you know why product demonstrators at the grocery store give you those tempting little free food samples when you’re out shopping on your way home for dinner?  It’s because manufacturers and retailers know that free samples result in significantly increased sales. They simply wouldn’t be doing this if it didn’t work to boost results. The food business is not doing charity work – their goal is to make more money.  This free sample strategy is based on a sociological concept calledthe rule of reciprocation.

It’s also the same concept that pharmaceutical companies rely on when they offer your doctors financial incentives – and even those free drug samples.   Continue reading