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Cheerleaders: The New Breed of Drug Company Salespeople

I haven't seen many cases in which drug companies won't do whatever it takes to keep their coffers flush with cash. They'll even go so far as to hire current and former cheerleaders -- primarily attractive, young females -- as drug sales reps, according to this awesome, must-read New York Times piece.

In fact, a University of Kentucky (UK) faculty adviser gets calls on a regular basis from drug company recruiters looking for "talented" graduates as potential sales reps, regardless of their majors. Some 25 former UK cheerleaders, mostly women, now work in the industry as sales reps.

Here's the kicker, folks: This "demand" has spurred the debut of an employment firm, Memphis-based Spirited Sales Leaders, that boasts a database of thousands of candidates.

Since, sex sells everything from beer to cars, it shouldn't surprise you drug companies also use it deliberately to persuade your doctor to write scripts for useless and often toxic medications. And, according to one federal lawsuit, one female drug rep testified drugmaker Novartis encouraged her to exploit a personal relationship with a physician to increase sales in her territory.

Of course, those "enticements" often lead to trouble too: One urologist who took an informal survey found 12 female drug reps out of 13 had been harassed by their physician clients.

So, the next time you visit your doctor and you begin to wonder why he or she is pushing one kind of medication over another, you'll have a better understanding why I believe the traditional, conventional drug paradigm -- that emphasizes one-stop-cures over treatments that get to the true source of the problem -- is so fatally flawed.

New York Times November 28, 2005 Registration Required

The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger November 28, 2005

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