Drug companies and questionable marketing
For years drug companies have been accused of using underhand methods for soliciting new business, promoting themselves through unethical tactics and advertising themselves under the radar. Issues have arisen including the promotion of drugs through the use of internet chat rooms, getting access directly to students and patients in order to avoid the advertising ban placed on them.
Along with this comes allegations of cartels – companies engaging in anti-competitive strategies as well as suggestions that these organisations have been releasing public information on certain illnesses with the intention of encouraging people to visit their GPs to request treatment for which the very same organisations will provide the cure.
Doctors will say that we should trust them to make the best decisions for their patients, regardless of all of this activity. However, the fact of the matter is that if it didn’t yield results the drug companies wouldn’t do it.
This is an argument that has been raging over the last few years and shows no sign of abating. It seems to be a much wider problem than a sales rep simply offering to take a Doctor out for lunch and it appears to be a practice that is on the rise as pharmaceutical companies in pursuit of cold hard cash become ever more resourceful in trying to gain those all important sales and contracts.
An example of this is the case of Glaxo who recently had to pay around $3 billion dollars to settle a case that included civil penalties for the improper marketing of about six drugs among other issues. Complaints were made by Glaxo employees about these improper practices that took place between the end of the 1990’s through to the mid 2000’s.
Those prosecuting showed that Glaxo had tried to influence decisions made by Doctors by offering trips to a variety of destinations including holidays to Bermuda and Jamaica along with corporate entertainment and Spa treatments. Glaxo is reported as saying that although it would not back away from these allegations the practices were operating a number of years ago now and the way the company now operates is very different.
Is this really the case though? Or is the truth a slightly more cynical perspective? That all that will actually happen with the mercurial nature of these pharmaceutical giants and their huge marketing budgets is that they will find a new way to avoid the regulations and unfairly influence the medical community and the public?