In the BMJ Last Saturday Anita Jain wrote “Gold jewellery, cars or an exotic foreign holiday, these are among the luxury gifts listed in a parliamentary committee report as being used by pharmaceutical companies to coax doctors into prescribing their drugs”. She goes on to describe the “3C strategy” employed by drug companies. “convince if possible, confuse if necessary, and corrupt if nothing else works”. Many (she says) will say an emphatic no to luxury gifts, but what about discounts, conference fees, hotels and flights?
Since we have been working with more doctors these days (rather than therapists) I am being approached with requests for hotel and flight costs and I confess I have conceded.
Why does this happen?
a) Because this is the world they live in (i.e. it is normal to have industry pay)
b) Academic and educational budgets are tight and industry has more money than it knows what to do with (they think).
So what should I do ?
I have conceded and paid out a few times, but not with any enthusiasm as we are not yet making $ billions in profits, but my conscience wrestles with it. I do not want to be guilty of behaving like bad pharma but then again I want our product to be accepted by mainstream medicine, so what should I do?