Paying illegal kickbacks to doctors: just the cost of doing business for Big Pharma?

The drug company Novartis has agreed to pay $422.5 million in criminal and civil penalties for promoting illegal use of its epilepsy drug Trileptaland five other Novartis drugs, the U.S. Department of Justice announced recently. The cases charged the company with promoting off-label use of Trileptal for medical conditions it had not been tested or approved to treat, and also for its illegal targeted marketing efforts.

The marketing efforts that prosecutors took exception to included paying kickbacks to physicians to encourage them to prescribe more of these drugs.

Now, that word kickbacks is a loaded word, and one that I’d imagine the docs who have been accepting this drug money would not likely ever use themselves.   Continue reading

Drug Rep Confidential

Watch this revealing 4-minute interview with pharmaceutical company sales reps, courtesy of Pharmed Out, an “independent, publicly funded project that empowers physicians to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices”.  The voices have been distorted to protect the identities of the two drug reps chatting about what happens when they visit your doctor.

From rewarding heavy prescribers to off-label marketing (promoting a drug for conditions it has not been legally approved to safely treat), these two men offer an eye-opening yet disturbing take on ‘detailing‘ – what goes on behind closed doors.   Continue reading