Are You Aware That Drug Companies Pay Doctors To Prescribe And Promote Their Drugs?
New York Times
Sept. 1, 2009
"... In February, federal prosecutors in Boston announced a civil lawsuit against Forest claiming that the company illegally marketed both Lexapro and a closely related antidepressant, Celexa, for use in children and paid kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe the medicines to children.
It is illegal to pay doctors to prescribe certain medicines to their patients. It is not illegal to pay doctors to educate their colleagues about a medicine. In recent years, federal prosecutors have accused many drug makers of deliberately crossing that line. ..."
" ...It is impossible to unpack all of the reasons for these prescriptions, but some industry critics say one reason could be the money doctors make from Forest. Psychiatrists make more money from drug makers than any other medical specialty, according to analyses of payment data. And Forest gives more money and food to doctors than many of its far larger rivals. Vermont officials found that Forest’s payments to doctors in 2008 were surpassed only by those of Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis and Merck — companies with annual sales that are five to 10 times larger than Forest’s.
Forest’s 2004 plan for marketing Lexapro offers detailed information about how the company planned to direct this money to doctors.
Under “Rep Promotional Programs,” the document said the company planned to spend $34.7 million to pay 2,000 psychiatrists and primary care doctors to deliver 15,000 marketing lectures to their peers in one year.
“These meetings may be large-scale dinner programs with a slide presentation, small roundtable discussions or one-on-one advocate lunches,” the document states.
Under “Lunch and Learns,” the company intended to spend $36 million providing lunch to doctors in their offices. “Providing lunch for a physician creates an extended amount of selling time for representatives,” the document states. ..."