NPR—How To Win Doctors And Influence Prescriptions

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to Webb and Maher, Clawson's view that speaking is educational is not at all accidental. Drug companies train representatives to approach a narrow set of doctors in a very specific way, using language that deliberately fosters this idea that the doctors who speak are educators, and not just educators, but the smartest of the smart.

For example, every drug representative interviewed for this story used the exact same phrase when approaching a doctor with a pitch to become a speaker: Each doctor approached to speak was told that he was being recruited to serve as a "thought leader."

This phrase, Webb says, seems to have incredible psychological power.

"When you do say 'thought leader' I think it's a huge ego boost for the physicians," Webb says. "It's like a feather in their cap. They get a lot from it."

What a brilliant selling scheme to use the phrase "thought leader." Read or better listen to it all--KSH (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted October 29, 2010 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. In Texas wrote:

A former doctor of mine (alas he moved away to start his own practice) was very good at playing the game as well.  He obtained a whole lot of free samples, which he used for his patients that did not have health insurance.

October 29, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
2. Clueless wrote:

I did learn how to use Botox for the treatment of cervical dystonia from a drug company sponsored educational program (and I thought that was quite useful).  I also learned how to put in spinal stimulators, and morphine pumps from a drug company sponsored educational program and what I learned convinced me that I had no business putting them in, and I have not put them in.  Other than those, I have received my share of ball point pens and coffee cups but nothing else.

Interesting the bit about “thought leader”.  A couple of drug reps told me they wanted me to give talks on learning disorders because I was a “thought leader”, however once they found out that I was heavily against prescribing medications, and was mostly going to talk about how to treat auditory and visual processing deficits, sleep disorders etc they recinded their invites. Ditto with narcotic patches (Their jaws probably dropped when I sent back their power points and offered my own, which pretty much said the opposite).
 
I used to be reasonably diligent about making time for drug reps because, as noted above, if you make time for them, they will give you free samples which are very useful for folks without insurance.  However now that I am out of private practice I don’t bother. 
Oh well.  Even if I’m not a “thought leader” at least I’m not a “thought follower”.

October 29, 1:42 pm | [comment link]
3. Country Doc wrote:

Well, this is almost a dead problem.  The government with prodding from the likes of Barney Franks, Starks, and Kennedy (God rest his soul) . I use to be a regular speaker for pharmaceutical companies and was quit good at it.  Docs like to relax and have a nice supper to hear the latest.  No more.  The wives can’t come—not even the mistresses!.  The speaker can’t deviate from the PowerPoint that is pretty much written by the government.  You have to read the slides, especially the warnings, etc.  I just quit.  They just need a robodoc.  The doctors don’t want to come.  I still speak to medical groups, some nationally with no sponsers and like it.  I don’t think any doctor was ever influenced anyone to perscribe something not good for the patients.  Doctors have to get so many hours of training each year.  Now they have to pay a lot to get them.  Most now just go to a course, take the test and report the hours.  The drug reps use to be called “detail men” and brought you the latest, answered questions and kept you up on the gossip in their district.  Now they can’t deviate from their script, but will get their medical department to mail you several hundred pages of approved answers to your question. So now I don’t ask. The reps are disappering as well as their free samples.  I think in five years we won’t be writting perscriptions.  We will put on a form the diagnosis federal number and the patient will take it to the government pharmacy and pick up what is the approved medicine.  Hope everyone enjoys what they have voted for.

October 29, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
4. Clueless wrote:

“The drug reps use to be called “detail men” and brought you the latest, answered questions and kept you up on the gossip in their district.  Now they can’t deviate from their script.”

Yeah that was the best part of the reps.  It was the main way I kept up on gossip in the district.  Now nobody’s talking to them so they really have nothing to say.  Too bad.

October 29, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
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