Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Key Opinion Leaders as Drug Reps

I just noticed this interesting post over on Health Care Renewal reviewing this article in the British Medical Journal. The article interviews a former U.S. drug rep, Kimberly Eliot, who recounts how key opinion leaders are groomed to be salespeople for the pharmaceutical industry:

"Key opinion leaders were salespeople for us, and we would routinely measure the return on our investment, by tracking prescriptions before and after their presentations," she said. "If that speaker didn’t make the impact the company was looking for, then you wouldn’t invite them back."
It is another nail in the coffin of the notion that drug companies pay doctors to provide medical education. It's all about marketing.


Anonymous said...

Can physicians go cold turkey and give up the money and perks that have sustained them for the years some have lived on like addicts?

Too many rationalize and intellectualize the need for big pharma to continue what they do.

It's like the Hebrews waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. Deliverance will be painful, folks; the idols give nothing back when the moment of truth is at hand.

You say the truth, Dr Carlat.

Psychiatrist in Iowa said...

I have done presentations around the state for various non-profit entities. In a few cases, drug reps happened to be in the audience and would approach me afterward to offer big bucks to do a small dinner show or some other silly engagement. One of them told me that I was a "thought leader" and that others could benefit from my experience and insight. I have to admit, the boost to my ego was worth far more to me than the money was. In fact, if they had left the money out of the equation, I might have relented just to satisfy my own narcissism.

But later when I learned more about the inner workings of Pharma, I realized that I am a relatively small potato, and that the target was really ME, not the docs in the audience. If the docs listening to me changed their prescribing, great. But the primary mission was to cozy up to me and change MY prescribing, because I am a prolific clinician. The sheer insidiousness of the whole thing is unbelievable. This is why I just flatly steer clear of all aspects of the buiness now.

Anonymous said...

I saw NPalliance is reporting this story now as well (they have videos if people need audio/visual inputs).

Rationalizing and intellectualizing, the defenses of less than healthy intentions, eh?

Oh, I said that before.