Monday, February 07, 2005

DB rants about drug reps and their gift giving. I join him in congratulating the Iowa practice that will no longer accept drug rep gifts or meals. If we all did this we would benefit by decreasing the proportion of drug costs attributable to this portion of the marketing budget. This has been a PR problem for physicians. Although we know that our decisions are not based on the gifts, it may not be that clear to our patients.

In addition, I am concerned by how many of my colleagues get a large portion of their information from the reps. Those of us who are Internet savvy have read many blogs and articles about the "slant" given the info by the reps and take what they say with a grain (or pound) of salt. We know that we have to verify whatever they say.

A few years ago, I attended the Scientific Assembly of the AAFP. One of the biggests medical conferences in the world. I was amazed at the expanse (and expense) of the pharmaceutical displays. Individual drugs were alloted more floor space than I have in my home!

I was embarassed by some of my colleagues' behavior. They were running around the hall grabbing up goodies, sometimes pushing people out the way. I saw one physician shouting and screaming at a drug rep that he didn't have time to go through the "educational" material required to get the "prize" at the end and that he should be given his "bootie" right away. The gift was a phone card for 10 minutes. Even at the inflated pay phone rates of $0.25 per minute, this doc was debasing himself for a phone card worth only a few dollars. I walked up to him and the thoroughly cowed young rep and held out a $5 bill and said, "Here, go buy a card. Leave her alone." He left without either the card or my $5. What a jerk.

Although his behavior was extreme, it was not completely atypical for that environment. I don't know about you, but I don't need another plastic pen, foam stress ball or refrigerator magnet, thank you.