News & Events

While doctors get drug reps’ soft sell, consumers get the hard sell

RE “DOCTORS need unbiased info, not a soft sell by drug reps’’ (Editorial, July 11): I am a family physician working for an outpatient practice that does not allow drug reps to provide lunch, gifts, or samples because of the conflict of interest it could create. I agree with this wholeheartedly, even though many patients of mine could use samples of expensive drugs that they may not be able to afford. The idea of doctors getting drug information from an unbiased scientific source would be welcomed by most physicians, as we often do not have time to read copious amounts of literature regarding new drugs.

I wonder who is examining the other side of drug marketing — direct-to-consumer advertising. Ads for expensive brand-name medications are all over television and periodicals. As doctors, we have the training and knowledge to determine what is right for our patients. Do the marketers have this knowledge, and, more important, do the consumers (the people we refer to as patients)?

It amazes me that prescription drugs are the only product advertised in mass media that no one of any age can actually buy. One needs a prescription written by a doctor. Consumers — patients — are getting a hard sell about products they know little about. In the process, drug companies spend billions of dollars marketing their products that would be better spent on research or helping patients afford their medications.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Gold