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PHARMA: Overstepping the line. Who could have known?

It’s a tough life these days in the pharma business. Profits are down, sales force lay-offs are coming up, and the industry is restricted from using its favorite techniques to get doctors to write more scripts, while its reputation is in the gutter. Some people must be looking for a return to the halcyon days of the mid-late 1990s, when new blockbusters were rolling out of the pipeline (rather than off the patent), the public loved the industry, and anything went on the sales side. 

But wait. Apparently not absolutely anything went, or at least not according to the pesky US Attorney’s office in Boston.  They’ve apparently decided that offering a few important doctors an all expenses-paid trip to the south of France (where they’d supposedly have to show up at a conference, mind you) in return for writing a few scripts of a failing anti-AIDS drug, is apparently an indictable offence!

Hang on a minute.  The "offence" was in 1996.  The indictment took 10 years. Isn’t this the same US Attorney’s office in Boston that couldn’t get a conviction in the TAP pharmaceuticals case, when basically everyone knew and the company all but admitted paying direct bribes to doctors to get them to prescribe Lupron? Do they really think that at the same time when Enron, Worldcom, Healthsouth and scamsters in dotcoms and Wall Street were putting together their schemes to defraud the world that a few regional sales directors, desperate to keep their jobs, should face hard time for offering out a few trips for a doc and his long-suffering wife or mistress to hit the beach? And how different is that from taking the doctor out to a dine and dash every week? How’s a poor pharma rep to know where the line is?

Coda: One of the docs that apparently wouldn’t take the bait was a Dr RL of Florida.  Over on DB’s MedRants one of the most fun commenters is a retired doc called RGL, otherwise known as Roaring Remy. Could Roaring Remy and the Dr. RL in the indictment be per chance related?  And if so, didn’t Remy want to go to the south of France?  Would he have preffered somewhere cooler?

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