Doctors and Pharmaceutical Reps and me

I think I'll stick with the theme of self-reflective posts.  I was reading the recent Post article detailing the increasingly cozy relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical representatives:

Despite efforts to curb drug companies' avid courting of doctors,
the industry is working harder than ever to influence what medicines
they prescribe, sending out sales representatives with greater
frequency and plying physicians with gifts, meals and consulting fees,
according to several new papers.

One study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine last week found that 94 percent of doctors
have some type of relationship with the drug industry — most commonly
accepting free food or drug samples, which about 80 percent of
physicians did. More than one-third of the 1,662 physicians who
responded to a survey conducted from November 2003 to June 2004
reported being reimbursed by the drug industry for costs of going to
professional meetings or continuing medical education, and 28 percent
said they had been paid for consulting, giving lectures or signing up
patients for clinical trials…

“We now know that virtually every doctor in the United States has some
form of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry,” said Eric G.
Campbell

As I was feeling all judgmental about this, I thought about the fact that I had lunch bought for me this week by three different representatives of college textbook publishers.  Its really the same principle, but on a much smaller scale and with much lower stakes. I'd like to think that my good relationship with several publisher's representatives has nothing to do with the books I choose, but if the studies of doctors tell us anything, I'm probably wrong about that.  I choose the books that I think make the most sense for my courses and for my students that are offered at a reasonable price.  Usually, its not at all hard to make a choice.   When it comes to Introduction to American Government, though, there are probably dozens of good and acceptable books on the market (though I really am quite partial to New American Democracy, Alternate Edition).  The books I end up closely considering, if not choosing, for this course largely depend upon my relationships with their publishers.  Hmmm, I guess it would be nice if I got some free trips to Hawaii, etc., like the doctors instead of just free lunches.  Then again, I suspect companies make just a little bit more off of Viagra and Lipitor than say New American Democracy and We the People

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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