Friday, November 02, 2007

Howard Brody on "Bribery" and on Spending on Research vs Marketing

On the Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma blog, Howard Brody finished up this week with a bang.

First, he addressed the issue of gifts given to doctors meant to induce them to change their professional decision making. On the heels of a report by Consumers International entitled "Drugs, Doctors and Dinner: How drug companies influence health in the developing world," he noted that some media reports are starting to talk about pharma giving bribes, not just gifts to doctors. Brody acknowledged that he, and many others (yours truly included) have refrained from using such a direct word. But after all, a bribe is "money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, esp. in that person's performance as an athlete, public official, etc." Could a gift given to a physician "corrupt" their behavior? Brody noted that is not an outlandish consideration. He concluded, "So, if the goodies dangled before physicians by the drug companies are in fact bribes, why have we been giving them a free ride for so long and using euphemisms?"

His most recent post dealt with the oft-repeated dogma that the pharmaceutical industry spends more on research than on marketing. He cited a report from the Global Forum for Health Research that suggested all the ways pharma can re-classify what appears to be spending on marketing as spending on research.


Anonymous said...

"Using euphemisms" is a form of psychological denial.

Anonymous said...

And we can all have such great trust in pharma's bookkeeping. In the Nov. 5th WSJ Melissa Korn reports the $12.9 fine being paid by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb for "marketing the spread" on certain drugs sold under the Medicare Part B programs. The companies inflated the wholesale price to third party payors that were used as benchmarks for reimbursement.

Somehow it has become acceptable to take advantage of government programs and those least likely to take care of themselves.

Steve Lucas