Friday, June 08, 2007

Sanity and Combs: Freebies From Pharma!

Wired magazine goes all in-depth on the practice of getting doctors' attention by giving away stuff. For example, USB Flash memory sticks to promote an Alzheimer's disease drug.

" much of the merchandise handed out generously in past years -- Prozac mouse pads and gym bags, Zoloft coffee mugs -- promoted drugs with recently expired patents, which are now sold generically."Nobody can make money on the generics so they aren't going to pay to sell something," Carlat says. "Only three of the SSRIs (a class of antidepressant) are still patented."

I'm of two minds on this phenomenon. I think I'll go with the pros first. It's nice to be able to take free samples of a drug before you commit money to it. And when I was running theatres, I hosted a few screenings sponsored by drug companies. To this day I have a note pad with the Paxil logo on it. Nice. And the pens! Oh, the pens.

Giving free stuff to doctors makes them happier doctors, and happy doctors make less mistakes, unless they're happier because you gave 'em booze.

Two downsides: the obvious ethical problems the arise when Diet and Exercise can't sponsor a weekend golf trip while Glaxxo can. And my pleasure at getting free samples is mitigated by sitting in a waiting room, watching salesman after salesman walk in to talk to the doctor while my appointment time stretches to two hours late.

By the way, since I've been off anti-depressants for a couple of months now you can assume my opinions aren't clouded by them. If they can make a drug that combats shyness, it's only a matter of time before they make one that targets your distaste for big pharma. Keep a close eye on the reservoirs.

(And no, nowhere in the article does it say that they gave away any combs. If you were me, would you be able to resist that title? Hell no!)

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