Every year the pharmaceutical industry spends $7.2 billion on marketing directly to doctors in the USA, and this includes free meals, 'educational' trips abroad, and gifts that can range from a pen to a personal computer. It also gives away $16 billion of free drug samples every year.
The one puzzle is the stance of the doctor in these transactions. Presumably the doctor has free will, and has the brains to figure out the best treatment for his or her patient, irrespective of the offer of a pen. As medical critic Thomas Stossel has commented: "If doctors in practice are too dumb to figure out that when a drug rep takes him out to play golf that the rep is trying to sell him something, we're in trouble."
(Source: The Lancet, 2007; 369: 730).
E-news broadcast 8 March 2007 No.340 [Subscribe]