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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2977

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: Journal Article

Eastman M.
The day the detail man talked
American Pharmacy 1978; 18:(11):592


Charles Brannan, former Hoffman-La Roche detain man, testified to the Senate Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control about pressure (‘the velvet hammer’) allegedly placed on him by a superior to supersell Valium to physicians and pharmacists. Brannan, a plaintiff in a class action against HLR, quit on disability in 1976. He produced a company document stressing Valium’s versatility and commercial importance and asking for ‘commitment to Valium on every call’. In the hearing room was a large display of journal ads for Valium and other mood alterers. Many depicted women or elderly people. Brannan reported being expected to see six doctors daily, plus two hospitals and three pharmacists. He reported that 1975 Valium sales were $285 million, compared with $61 million in 1971. Total Librium and Valium sales in 1975 were $437 million, compared with $600 million total company sales. Irwin Lerner, HLR group vice president, said Roche was committed to providing accurate information to health professionals and full compliance with regulations governing such activities. Sue Boe, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association assistant vice president for consumer affairs, said the more than doubling of anti-anxiety drug prescriptions since 1964 did not stem from overpromotion, but was largely due to maintenance of mentally ill outpatients. She cited statistics showing that by 1980 there will be a two-thirds reduction in hospitalized mental patients if the decline continues. Boe defended detailmen and journal ads, arguing that physicians do not make decisions based solely on their advocacy, and that patients benefit from advertising.

*news story/United States/


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