TORONTO — The comradeship between doctors and medical representatives needs no introduction. The motivation for such life-time investments begin// in the precincts of swank offices and boardrooms, where jet-setting corporate executives are given their ‘do or die’ sales targets. Propelled into action by sheer bottom-line figures, the dynamic medical rep gets to the bottom of the doctor’s heart.
The medical representatives first create a ready reckoner of the doctors’ personal history- important occasions, birthday of spouse and such other information that will touch a chord. A novel effort by an erstwhile US medical representative and a physician explores the strong nexus between doctors and medical representatives that have a bearing on the contents of the prescription given to patients.
Mr. Ahari, who worked as U.S. drug representative for international pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co, said, "Most doctors think themselves immune to such influences. This is an illusion. It’s my job to figure out what a physician's price is."
The whopping sales recorded by the Canadian pharmaceutical industry which generated $17.8-billion last year is ample evidence to the relationship between doctors and medical representatives. A pharmaceutical watchdog in Canada is keen on regulating this connection between medical reps and doctors. A research conducted in 2005 showed that nearly 20% of physicians had given appointments to medical reps during the previous week. The research revealed that doctors were approached with a strategy befitting their personality type. The study revealed some of the key strategies employed by reps to break the ice and make positive inroads in their relationship with doctors.
Mr. Ahari felt, that reps "create a subconscious obligation to reciprocate. The highest prescribers are every rep's sugar mommies and daddies." This is a risky proposition for patients who may be given newer drugs that do not carry evidenc
e from years of use to support its safety and efficacy. According to Joel Lexchin, a professor of health policy at York University, the drugs promoted most likely happen to be the newer ones.
A case in point is the aggressively marketed drug Vioxx, which was found to have adverse side effects after it hit the market. The drug did not have years of evidence to back its safety.
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