Elliot’s article, “The Drug Pushers”, explores how traditional roles between doctors and pharmaceutical representatives have been blurred within the market orientated medical industry. For example, doctor-led presentations are advantageous to drug companies for not only can they gain off-label promotions, but doctors who attended presentations led by other doctors wrote approximately 4 times the prescriptions for the product in question than doctors who attended the event led by a representative. So, we see a change in traditional roles as reps influence doctors and doctors then influence their peers.
I do not question the change in tactics reps use to access wider audiences by using ‘incorruptible’ professionals such as physicians to market their products. My reaction, instead, is if this ‘blurring of roles’ really constitutes as big of a change as Elliot claims it to be. It would be fair to say that the buy- and sell- sides of medicine have always been heavily market orientated. Interests have always aligned in that the buyers (doctors) need to obtain products from the sellers (reps) and they must mediate their interests in relation to one another. I would argue that basic objectives of both parties have never changed: doctors must still uphold the best interests of the patient while reps must uphold their credibility in order to ensure future scripts from their doctors. While reps have indeed changed their marketing strategies, I believe this should be less of a concern than focusing on the regulatory bodies which first and foremost allow the drugs on the market. I am left with questions pertaining to the scope, influence, and limitations on the FDA (or other pertinent regulatory bodies).
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