Paying Doctors to Market Drugs to Other Doctors

Is your doctor moonlighting - as a drug rep?

The people who run drug companies are crafty devils; I'll give them that. They can find more ways to sell drugs than the neighborhood narcotic pusher! Case in point: Paying doctors to market drugs to OTHER doctors. Why would they do this? Because drug makers are prohibited from marketing individual drugs for the treatment of medical conditions the FDA hasn't specifically approved them for

But DOCTORS labor under no such restrictions.

That's right: Doctors can legally prescribe any drug to any patient for any condition. For example, if your M.D. believes - or has been convinced by another doctor on the drug company payroll - that prescribing a certain foot fungus drug will cure you of cataracts, then it's perfectly legal for him (or HER, I know!) to recommend it. As long as the prescribing doc learned about the technique from ANOTHER DOCTOR, it's all well and good in the eyes of the law.

So what do the drug companies do? They pay individual doctors tens of thousands of dollars to give presentations and seminars to their colleagues about the wonders of a certain drug that's made for one disease to treat other medical conditions - thereby increasing demand for the drug without illegally "marketing" it. The spokes-doctors become, in effect, drug sales reps to their industry.

This seems to push the envelope of what's legal, doesn't it?

A former employee of drug maker Warner-Lambert (now owned by Pfizer) thinks so, too. He's the star whistle-blower witness for the prosecution in a case against the drug giant for illegal marketing practices - including not just such "peer selling" scams as revealed above, but also the outright suggestion of unapproved uses by the company's field sales reps! The gall and greed of these people is outrageous, isn't it?

This could be big - a landmark case for reigning in the out-of-control marketing practices of drug companies. It could also send shockwaves throughout the conventional medical community about the proper role of doctors in the medication process - and maybe force some basic ethics back into the equation

Think about it: Would you feel good about taking a drug in an unauthorized manner because your doctor was paid to endorse it to his colleagues - and he needed to be able to say he prescribed it in his practice?

Don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be a guinea pig.

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Liquid junk food

Remember when "soft drinks" meant sodas like Coke, Pepsi, 7up, etc?

Well, nowadays the term applies to basically anything wet that's not alcoholic - including so-called "sports" drinks and a whole raft of souped-up teas, juices, and coffees. But here's a news flash for you: All of them are basically the same thing

Overpriced, over-hyped, carbohydrate saturated sugar-water.

Now I'm sure that the marketing gurus who work in the plush offices of these various drink-makers would take me to task on that claim - after all, they stand to gain a considerable market share by adding a sprinkle of nutrients or herbs or some such. But I stand beside my original assessment. Just because they dissolve a Flintstones vitamin into what's basically Kool-Aid doesn't make it what they portray it to be: Nutritious. And no amount of marketing, packaging, or food coloring in the whole world can change that.

But why should this matter to those fat cats up in the executive suite? That sugar-water's liquid gold to them - who cares if millions of people are misled by the ads into thinking they're drinking healthy, rejuvenating "electrolytes" and what not? I wonder: What will the next big trend in drinks will be - once they've marketed every possible combination of sucrose, food coloring, and H20, that is

Will it be super-caffeinated "energy drinks?" Oh wait, they've got that already - it's a trendy new drink called Red Bull. What about tap water that's pumped into a fancy bottle with a picture of a snow-capped mountain on it, then sold at a 95 percent mark-up? Wait a minute; they've done that as well (But I don't mean to imply that ALL bottled water is bad - you SHOULD drink chemical-free water, which for most people, means bottled water.)

And here's a doozy: How about alcoholic beverages with powerful aphrodisiacs mixed in!

Oh, wait - they're doing that, too (Daily Dose, 4/25)

When will people learn that for a drink to be good for you, it's got to come by way of Mother Nature - not Madison Avenue?

Not letting them off the hook for this scam,
William Campbell Douglass II, MD