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Is The Army of Drug Sales Reps Losing Their Influence Over Your Doctor?

There's been much attention paid as of late to an increasingly vocal public fight -- pitting Congress and a highly skeptical public against the mega-pharmaceuticals -- to curb, if not eliminate, consumer drug ads. If that ever happens, unfortunately, I suspect your doctor may have even more drug sales representatives to deal with at his or her front door than ever before. Why? This must-read story from yesterday's Chicago Tribune paints a sordid picture...

  • The number of drugs reps in this country has almost tripled in the past decade to about 100,000.
  • Drugmakers spent more than $7 billion in 2004, according to experts, on office visits by reps, almost twice the amount they spent on TV and print ads geared to consumers.
  • Individual drug representatives armed with expense accounts as high as $20,000 annually to buy trinkets for doctors and office employees.

The piece also featured an interview with Jamie Reidy, a former drug rep who recently lost his job as a sales trainer for Pfizer after writing the expose, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman. Ready says it was common for as many as six drugs reps to visit a physician during the same week to discuss the virtues of Viagra.

The American Medical Association is certainly sitting on the sidelines, taking a noncommittal head-in-the-sand approach with one board member claiming, "Everybody has a right to make a living."

The good news, if there's any to be found, from this waste of money and people: According to a drug marketing research firm, the influence of sales reps in terms of time spent with doctors has been flat or waning for the past three years. Perhaps, that's a sign my vision to reform the current health care paradigm -- rife with toxic drugs masquerading as cures -- is starting to be heard.

Chicago Tribune May 8, 2005 Registration Required

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