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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 4021

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

Wilkes MS, Shuchman M.
Pitching doctors.
N Y Times Mag 1989 Nov 5; 88, 90, 126, 128-129


This article is a broad survey of the methods used by pharmaceutical companies to promote their products. It covers topics such as gift giving, sales representatives and sponsoring continuing medical education programs. Some professional organizations such as the Infectious Disease Society of American have developed ethical guidelines but have little power to enforce them. Research money from drug companies is used as an entry to get doctors to request that hospitals add drugs to their formularies. The industry has also been accused of using its advertising power to control the content of some medical journals.

*feature story/United States/regulation of promotion/guidelines, discussion of/Food and Drug Administration/FDA/gift giving/sales representatives/continuing medical education/corporate funding/drug company sponsored research/formularies/hospitals/editorial freedom/ad revenue/doctors/ETHICAL ISSUES IN PROMOTION: GIFT GIVING/ETHICAL ISSUES IN PROMOTION: PAYMENT FOR MEALS, ACCOMODATION, TRAVEL, ENTERTAINMENT/EVALUATION OF PROMOTION: DETAILING/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: FORMULARY INCLUSION/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: MARKET SHARE/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: PRESCRIBING, DRUG USE/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: PUBLICATION/PROMOTION AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION: DOCTORS/PROMOTION DISGUISED: SUPPORT FOR CME/REGULATION, CODES, GUIDELINES: DIRECT GOVERNMENT REGULATION/REGULATION, CODES, GUIDELINES: HEALTH PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS/SPONSORSHIP: RESEARCH/VOLUME OF AND EXPENDITURE ON PROMOTIONMeSH Terms: Advertising Biomedical Research Conflict of Interest Drug Industry* Economics* Editorial Policies Ethics, Medical Federal Government Financial Support Government Government Regulation Hospitals Humans Information Dissemination Information Services Motivation* Patient Care Pharmaceutical Preparations* Physicians* Publishing Research Scientific Misconduct Social Control, Formal United States United States Food and Drug Administration Universities


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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963