The insidious Ways in which drug companies brainwash physicians
Last year 10 pharmaceutical companies spent 77 million dollars here in Canada on physicians in order to convince them to prescribe specific drugs.
Most people are aware of the sales representatives with their multitudes of samples, the studies doctors put patients in without their knowledge so that they can discuss the results at a conference in Bermuda or Paris, the private boxes to the Blue Jays, Raptors and Maple Leaf Games but there is now a new method which has been found to be the most effective; paying doctors to tell their professional peers about the latest products.
I happen to know this because of a friend I went to school with who is a practising psychiatrist. When I met him he had just gone through a devastating divorce and was on the hook for large monthly alimony payments. He told me that he was approached by one of the very largest pharmaceutical companies to promote a new antidepressant for them. He was told that if he could gather 3 to 5 of his colleagues once a week for lunch, dinner, a round of gold, a bowling night out or any social function, they would pay him $1500 each week plus the cost of the outing. My friend was very excited by the offer because at the time that amount exactly covered his alimony payments
The pharmaceutical company supplied him with pages of literature showing studies that proved the great effectiveness of this drug. He started using it on his anxiety and depressed patients and when he was out with his psychiatrist friends he would tell them how well the drug was working for him.
Imagine, what could be more convincing than one of your professional colleagues telling you about a new effective drug. Of course you would rely on this information much more so than any sales representative from any drug company. This proved to be extremely effective.
Up until then the cost of a sales representative, their car and travel expenses, their samples and their training could cost a drug company between $150, 000 and $200,000 a year. And that does not include the vacation conferences and the expensive sport tickets. Now, for less than half that amount physicians were getting information about drugs that they completely believed because it was coming from one of their own, not an outside source.
For about one year my friend was very happy, going out every week, having a good time and making money all at the same time. However, as time went on, he began to see some very serious side-effects with this new antidepressant. His patients complained of insomnia, sexual dysfunction and many of them had suicidal thoughts. His concern grew greater when 2 of his patients actually committed suicide. After all, they are people suffering from depression and sometimes that is the endpoint. But this had never happened before in his practice.
He decided to start taking some of his patients off this new drug but found it was severely addicting. As soon as they stopped or even reduced the dosage most suffered terrible nightmares, cold sweats, delirium tremors, diarrhea, vomiting and severe headaches.
At this point he decided to look up the information about this new drug himself and not depend on the literature provided to him by the pharmaceutical company. The information he found in unbiased websites was, in many cases, almost the opposite of what he had been told by the pharmaceutical company. He was not only shocked but disgusted at himself. In spite of the nice cushy stipend he was getting, he decided to resign from that activity and just stick to his practice.
The scary part about all this is when you see your physician and you have a medical issue that he or she feel can be treated with a medication they are absolutely prescribing this drug in your best interests. They have been so brainwashed by all the so-called “scientific studies” that they truly believe this drug will work for you.
Some people cynically think that doctors are in on some scam to promote drugs and get their share. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. When Purdue convinced physicians that OxyContin could eliminate pain and it was not addicting, they became exited and loved the idea. At last, an opportunity to let people live normal pain-free lives without any side-effects. And what happened? The lies and falsehoods and phony studies have led to the biggest opioid epidemic in our history. All those thousands of lives are on the pharmaceutical industry for convincing physicians that their drugs were safe.
They have cardiologists so convinced that cholesterol-lowering drugs prevent heart attacks and strokes that 90% of all cardiologists take statin drugs. And yet while all you women are running, walking, cycling and wearing pink everything to raise money for breast cancer, the number one cause of death in women is heart attacks and strokes. Your chances of dying from heart disease are ten times greater than dying from cancer. So do cholesterol-lowering drugs work? Not in my opinion. Just another drug promoted with falsities to make money for the pharmaceutical industry.
Over the years I have seen so many very good effective drugs lose their popularity because they eventually were marketed in generic versions. The pharmaceutical industry then makes a new similar drug that may or may not be any better but it is certainly more expensive and may have side-effects that the original did not have.
Many drugs are absolutely essential for life, such as thyroid medication, insulin, epi-pens for allergy but when your physician wants to give you something new, do your own due diligence. Google all the information but stay away from websites that want to sell you something and make you sign up for their newsletter. Learn as much as you can before making a decision.
Do you think your pharmacist is unbiased? I cannot tell you how many rounds of golf at the Burlington Golf and Country Club, how many invitations to private boxes for baseball and hockey games and how many weekend spent at Deerhurst resort for many family all paid for by drug companies. And I was just a pharmacist!
The job of a pharmaceutical company is like any corporation; to make money for its shareholders. So my advice to you is if you really need the drug and you have researched it carefully, and then follow your instructions. But, if possible, rather than spend money on drugs, use that money to buy stocks in the pharma industry. It will be a win-win situation for sure. [print_link]