An American psychiatrist is giving his services for free in what he describes as his "march of shame" after he became an unwitting cog in Wyeth's marketing machine for its antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine).
He is also urging other doctors to "come in from the dark side" and to stop accepting gifts and incentives from drug companies as reward for promoting a drug.
Daniel Carlat, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts School of Medicine in Boston, has outlined in the New York Times how Wyeth seduced him into its marketing of the drug until he became "a drug rep with an MD".
It began with a small fee of $500 that Wyeth paid him in 2001 to talk for a short while about the benefits of its antidepressant following a lunch. However, Wyeth was soon paying for him and his wife to stay at luxury hotels and tickets for shows in order for him to talk at a "faculty development" session.
He realised what he was doing only when, during one presentation, he spoke about the drug's side effects, and a Wyeth representative asked him if he was unwell.
(Source: New York Times, November 25, 2007).