There's a subtle war that is waged every day in the halls of medicine, and away from the eyes of the public, for the minds and prescription pads of the nation's doctors.
Advertisements in the learned journals, speeches by experts at medical conferences, and educational trips to exotic places are part of the soft-sell of the pharmaceutical industry.
Unfortunately, it is also sometimes bare-naked commercialism - the sort we're all familiar with - dressed up as science.
A family doctor in Lanarkshire recently caught out Novartis Pharmaceuticals after he attended a meeting about diabetes and coronary heart disease. One of the speakers said that doctors could reduce mortality among their diabetes patients if they could lower high concentrations of sugar in their patients' blood after a meal. The speaker produced literature from Novartis, which said that its drug, nateglinide, reduced glucose levels after meals, and so implied it, could also reduce mortality.
Unfortunately, the claim was based on a study that didn't even look at diabetes.
The doctor complained to a committee that upholds the industry's code of practice on marketing, and the committee agreed.
So what has all this got to do with you? This is but one example of the marketing practices of drug companies who try to influence doctors by fair means or foul. The end result is to get him to write a prescription for you whether or not it is in your best interests. (British Medical Journal, 2002; 325: 1379).
To understand how the drugs industry works, a 'must-read' is the WDDTY book, Secrets of the Drugs Industry. You can buy your copy from our website: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=341