When Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist in Massachusetts, was flown to New York with his wife by Wyeth, the “training” weekend he attended in a luxury hotel was topped off with a Broadway show. It was early 2001 and he had just agreed to the US pharmaceuticals company’s proposal that he give talks to doctors about its antidepressant Effexor. During the following year, he was regularly paid fees of $750 a time to drive to “lunch and learn” sessions where he would speak for 10 minutes to emphasise the drug’s advantages to fellow doctors, using slides prepared by the company. “It seemed like a win-win,” he recalls. “I was prescribing it, educating doctors and making some money.” But within a few months, he became disillusioned with his co-option as a marketing representative. He was selectively presenting clinical data that put the drug in a positive light to physicians who had been targeted by the company through “data mining” techniques that identified their individual prescription patterns.Dr Carlat has spoken out as part of a growing backlash against such aggressive marketing tactics, which are leading to significant changes in the relationship between doctors and drug companies. But even as pharmaceuticals executives argue that such problems belong to the past and were always exaggerated, they are bracing for both intensifying penalties and calls for further reform.
They say there’s no money in healthy people. But, why is the pharmaceutical industry the most profitable industry in the world? It is because they have mastered the art of concocting the disorder, creating the drug for the disorder and then bombarding the public with advertisements to convince them they’re afflicted, leaving little choice but to get “prescribed”.
Already, the explosive growth in online advertising has intensified public concerns: the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $1 billion on Internet ads last year and is projected to spend $1.7 billion on such marketing efforts in 2012…
E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans. The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress. 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats.