Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Only $50K Per Physician a Year for Drug Company Sponsored Talks?

Again on Question Authority with Dr Peter Rost is this post on how US pharmaceutical companies use physician key opinion leaders to give talks promoting specific products. Rost came up with apparently genuine emails from Pfizer Inc. drug representatives touting a specific physician as a speaker whose talks on the cardiovascular risks of HIV patients could be used to promote the use of the anti-retroviral drug Viracept (nelfinavir). Further, the emails note that while the usual internal rules limit any given speaker from receiving more than $50,000 in honoraria from Pfizer per year to give such talks, these rules can be bent.

Assuming the authenticity of the emails, this post highlights some important points
  • Pharmaceutical companies pay physicians to speak as a way to market their products
  • Physicians can make considerable amounts of money doing so

Thus, as I have said before, physicians who are paid part-time to give talks to help market drugs should make that fact clear when they give these talks. If they would be embarassed to do so, then maybe they should be embarassed to give such talks.

Finally, giving such marketing talks without acknowledging their purpose is a form of stealth marketing, and is inherently dishonest both for physicians involved and the companies that pay them.

Challenge to the audience: what are other words for dishonest marketing?

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