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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20263

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: news

Bita N
Pharmaceutical companies spends $30m wining, dining doctors
The Australian 2012 Aug 10
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/pharmaceutical-companies-spends-30m-wining-dining-doctors/story-e6frg8y6-1226447086707


Full text:

DRUG companies are spending $30 million a year wining and dining doctors and healthcare workers, and are subsidising nurse wages in some GP clinics.

Australia’s $22 billion pharmaceutical industry is sponsoring nurses to work
free in doctors’ surgeries as “diabetes educators”, and to show asthmatics
how to use their inhalers.

Medicines Australia chief executive Brendan Shaw said yesterday the
industry’s code of conduct allowed “support for medical practice
activities”. He said companies often recruited and trained the nurses, who
then worked for free or for subsidised wages at GP clinics. “There cannot be
any interference with the independence of the doctors’ care of their
patients,” he said. “There must not be any incentive to doctors to prescribe
a company’s product.”

Medicines Australia revealed yesterday that its members spent $29.4m on
“hospitality” for medical professionals in the year to March. The industry
code bans them from providing “entertainment” for healthcare workers but
allows hospitality at “educational events”.

A register of events sponsored by 37 companies, at a total cost of $23.7m in
the six months to March, shows that half the money was spent on hospitality
for 385,871 health professionals.

Sanofi-Aventis spent $54,348 on a weekend training session for 80
neurologists at the Rendevous Hotel in Melbourne – including $24,683 on
flights, $15,480 on hotel rooms and $13,184 on meals.

Pfizer spent $192,924 hosting 104 GPs for a weekend meeting at the five-star
Sofitel Hotel on the Gold Coast. A one-day meeting at the luxurious Grand
Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne for 113 anaesthetists and pain and rehabilitation
specialists cost $265,945 – including $101,719 on hospitality. And Pfizer’s
one-day meeting of 221 GPs at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney cost
$614,962 – including $56,736 for hotel rooms and $48,316 for flights.

Drug companies also paid hospitals and clinics to organise their own
training sessions: St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital received $7272 from
Pfizer to send 100 GPs to the Hyatt Sanctuary Cove luxury resort on the Gold
Coast for a meeting on “mental health presentation”.

And nine oncologists drank $560 worth of beverages at a meeting lasting 90
minutes at the Iceworks Lounge in Brisbane, paid for by Sanofi-Aventis.

Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said yesterday
doctors should be cynical about accepting hospitality or nursing staff from
drug companies. “I’ve heard of nurses who will come along to your practice
to find patients with diabetes, with a view to try to see if there is
optimal therapy,” he said. “I haven’t used them, for the express purpose
that their ultimate aim in life is to get the dose of whatever is prescribed
(increased). That is a conflict of interest.”

Dr Hambleton said educational sessions were a “marketing exercise” for drug
companies.

 

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You are going to have many difficulties. The smokers will not like your message. The tobacco interests will be vigorously opposed. The media and the government will be loath to support these findings. But you have one factor in your favour. What you have going for you is that you are right.
- Evarts Graham
See:
When truth is unwelcome: the first reports on smoking and lung cancer.