There was a particular line in Carl Elliot’s “The Drug Pushers” that stood out above all else to me. The line read, “reps must persuade doctors to prescribe drugs that are marginally effective, exorbitantly expensive, difficult to administer or even dangerously toxic.” For an article that is questioning the ethics of pharmaceutical sales reps and their relationship to physicians, they seem to glaze over a seemingly bigger ethical question. Perhaps the question should not be focused on whether or not the “dressing up” of pharmaceutical sales is ethical or not, but on the ethics of the pharmaceuticals they are promoting themselves. Before medication is sold on a larger scale, I am assuming that it must first be approved by some regulating body. How is it then that even “dangerously toxic” pharmaceuticals are being promoted from office to office? I’m not sure, but I have a sneaking, perhaps ridiculous suspicion, that the people who are responsible for approving these harmful pharmaceuticals may also be being wined and dined by the manufacturing companies. Rather than worrying about whether the bribing of these physicians is ethical or not, I truly believe that we should be more worried about the pharmaceuticals we are allowing on the market. If they are dangerous and sold solely for profit, they should not be passed by the regulating body. The fact that they are points to what I think is a deeper problem with the standards by which pharmaceuticals are passed.
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