Slippery Slopes

Elliott’s article appeared in a widely read periodical and appears to have achieved something that other articles thus far have not which is to strike a balance between the attitude of alertness concerning the disturbing trend of gift giving to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry and a calming attitude towards the general readership of the publication. While one is certainly disturbed by the use of unrestricted education grants, as presented by Carbona, one also envisions one’s own doctor in Elliott, the friendly general practitioner who would never take an unrestricted education grant. While the subject that Elliott discusses should be taken in all seriousness, he does manage to lighten the tone of the article with his brother’s description of a moral slippery slope. The moral quandary, when phrased in the context of the crate on its way to the brothel, presents the incremental decision making with no checks and balances, except for the physician’s integrity, as an understandable progression and that it is incumbent on the physician to realize the moral issues. Elliott later presents the current world in terms of the ruthless business professional and implies that doctors are becoming less like doctors and more like the drug reps (93) and they can become the drug reps, and sometimes do (93). This is certainly a more disturbing picture of the medical profession than has already been presented as it would seem that physicians are becoming less objective than their professional oaths, colleges, and patients would like them to be.

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