These measures often prohibited representatives of such firms from entering patient care areas and even medical school facilities, with the exception of tightly controlled training activities, and then by appointment only. In some cases, medical schools have issued outright bans against industry support of educational activities.
What is the rationale behind such actions? It boils down to a concern that industry funding may inappropriately influence both medical education and patient care. For example, a physician visited by an industry representative might be more likely to prescribe one of the firm’s drugs. In announcing a ban on such activities, one school likened the industry to Don Juan, worrying that physicians might prescribe drugs because they were “seduced by industry,” and not because “it’s best for the patient.”
There is evidence that even physicians who believe their decision making is not biased by marketing are in fact affected by it. Moreover, a good deal of such marketing is not exactly purely scientific. A perusal of medical journals reveals a plethora of full-page ads featuring slogans such as:
“Simplicity is clear information at your fingertips,” and highlighting images such as a physician walking down a hallway with a tiger, describing the featured drug as a “powerful partner.”
Such marketing is not inexpensive. Placing a full-page ad in a medical journal typically costs around $4,000. On the other hand, as an air traveler I have come across a number of slick full-page airline magazines ads touting medical schools and their affiliated hospitals.
These cost on average $24,000.