How Pharmaceutical Companies Influence Doctors
Here's an interesting site you might want to take a look at. Although designed for doctors, the information is fascinating for the layperson as well. The MGH Institute of Health Professions, an academic affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital, launched a new continuing education documentary and interactive website designed to educate doctor/prescribers about drug industry influence. Ironically, the program is funded by Pfizer as a result of the Neurontin settlement.
In particular, you might want to check out their documentary film modules that explain how drugs get approved and marketed -- and the influence pharmaceutical companies have on those outcomes. It's surprisingly pointed, considering that it came out of mainstream medicine. Then again, the documentaries were produced by former pharmaceutical rep, now filmmaker and consumer health advocate, Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau. (If you get a chance, I highly recommend the movie, Side Effects, which is based on her life journey. You can rent it from Netflix.)
- Module One Overview of drug research and development in the United States; the FDA drug approval process.
- Module Two Overview of pharmaceutical marketing practices, scientific evidence on the effect of marketing methods on prescribing behavior (drug samples, free meals, interactions with drug industry representatives, industry sponsored CME and lectures at national conferences, free gifts, office supplies).
- Module Three Overview, discussion and presentation of opposing views regarding the ethical dimensions of pharmaceutical marketing and direct-to-consumer advertising; conflict of interest debate; effect on costs to patients and health care system as a whole.
- Module Four Overview of strategies to improve prescribing, i.e. evidence-based prescribing vs. market-based prescribing; cost-effective prescribing; strategies to improve interaction with representatives; critical evaluation techniques of pharmaceutical company information (data and claims).