So there’s been a fair amount of fuss about a new paper by two academics, one a former drug rep, about the tricks big Pharma uses to “fool” physicians when it details them. You may not be impressed and may be willing to blame Pharma with its cheerleader sales reps and beauty queen detailers. The Industry Veteran, in his usual gentle style, assigns blame elsewhere. You have, as usual, been warned!
This newswires and every health care site in the blogosphere carried a story about a former Lilly rep who published an article about the sales tactics that pharma reps use to influence physicians’ prescribing. I’m shocked and horrified — NOT! So pharma reps have been taught Sales Skills 101. What the hell, are physicians such delicate flowers that they must not be subjected to the lures of salesmanship? Sorry if I appear obtuse, but I don’t see anything disreputable if a rep assesses the type of physician he’s seeing and tailors a pitch to that type.
The fact remains that drugs are discovered and distributed everywhere
in the world through a competitive market system. Personal sales serves
as one of the main spokes of that marketing wheel. Why do some people
buy into the chauvinistic ideology of physicians that they must never
serve as targets for marketing? Instead the poor dears must occupy
their minds with more important matters and should remain above the
lessons everyone else learned around the same time we were taught to
cross the street, to wit, that sales pitches constitute part of the
flotsam of everyday life, like farts in an elevator or ice cream bar
wrappers on the street. Imagine, 90,000 Kens and Barbies out there,
traumatizing physicians by making them think that reps are their
I remember when I was a kid, I read several of the
Sherlock Holmes books. Conan Doyle wrote Dr. Watson as a hale and
hearty fellow who was a battlefield surgeon in the Crimean War and
served as the pragmatic implementer for the cerebral Holmes. How did we
devolve to a point, 120 years later, where physicians are so unwordly
that they’ll jeopardize their patients’ health and/or run up bills for
the health care system because of blandishments from cheerleaders in
short skirts? If physicians are unduly influenced by reps, then the
goddamned residency programs should teach MDs (short for Money Driven
or, if you like, Morally Deficient) what the rest of us learned about
waiting for the green light before we walk into the intersection.