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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 18995

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Magazine

Pollock R, Barnes A, Ringelblum D, Quittner G
Winning friends and influence
Australian Doctor Weekly 2010 Dec 9

Full text:

EDITOR I have no doubt that I am brand influenced by the
pharmaceutical reps, but most of us docs have a brain or two (‘Under
the influence’, Gut Feelings, 3 December). We are not going to use a
drug against our clinical judgement because of a few pens.

I have enjoyed the generosity of the pharmaceutical industry to attend
a number of conferences in recent months, probably on the money saved
from pens and notepads. These conferences are ethical and full of
useful information. And I would not be able to afford to attend them
except for drug company sponsorship.

Dr Robyn Pollock; Bargara, Qld

EDITOR We have opened a new practice this year and began with the
absolute rules of no drug rep visits, no samples, no paper-based
products and no gifts of any sort.

This has made our clinic and our heads so much less cluttered, avoided
stockpiling and improved efficiency – and we still obtain all the
information we need via more objective sources.

We don’t even use drug company pens. So refreshing!

Dr Alisdair Barnes; Mornington, Vic

EDITOR Thirty years ago when I was in medical school, the wards were
full of patients with upper GI ulceration and general surgeons made a
healthy living with surgical solutions with high levels of morbidity.
What do we see today? The surgeons are out of this kind of work and
the wards are empty of these patients.

We also see across a range of diseases, continued innovation, new
treatments, new drugs – over time clearly more effective and safer
than those they have replaced.

These advances have not been the product of some “altruistic”
socialist enterprise, but are the outcome of an imperfect, rapacious,
market-driven pharmaceutical industry for whom profit for the
shareholder is the legal and socially responsible obligation.

Dr Alexander Bennett; Mount Gravatt, Qld

EDITOR The National Prescribing Service is no less biased than the
pharmaceutical companies – it just has a different agenda. It can
rarely justify many of the claims it makes, and only when pushed does
it admit that its presentations are based on PBS guidelines/
restrictions, which don’t always represent best medical practice.

We’ve been told for years that doctors prescribe badly, but I have
never seen evidence that shows any intervention we have been subjected
to has improved prescribing.

Dr David Ringelblum; Rowville, Vic

EDITOR The drug rep is like a bumblebee, going from flower to flower.
After the perfunctory scattering of samples, I then enjoy a relaxed
chat about how my colleagues are faring around our district and

The reps know, better than anyone, the shabby state of waiting rooms
or the doctors and patients who inhabit them.

If you REALLY want to know what is happening to general practice, you
could do much worse than ask a seasoned rep.

As for the sales pitch, I take that with a grain of salt and pepper
too. I resent those who would inflict their moral high ground on me.

I am quite happy down here in the valley, thank you.

Dr George Quittner; Sydney, NSW


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.