A flight of pharma marketing fancy

With New York becoming yet another state to consider regulating pharmaceutical company gift-giving, it's worth considering whether such regs are likely to achieve their intended purpose.

Here's my premise: No matter how you work to restrict them, multi-billion dollar marketing concerns like the pharmas are going to find a way to peddle influence. Maybe, then, we should accept this and base pharma reforms on this premise.

Indulge in a flight of fantasy with me here.

What if, rather than competing with potentially questionable gifts, pharmas were required to jointly fund a U.S. educational pool. This pool would pay for reps to present on various drugs from multiple pharmaceutical companies.

Reps would definitely give sales pitches, and be compensated for their success, but would make the same bucks no matter which company they pitched on a given day.

Because there would be less money spent on building out competing sales forces, the reps could be paid more, which might attract clinical professionals to get involved, upping the quality of physician-rep discussion considerably.

The pool would pay for educational materials, but the materials would be conducted by a related research institute with no direct ties to the pharma industry. The institute would be funded indirectly through the pool.

Doctors could visit regional "educational centers" when they wanted to get current, and would be reimbursed for their time through the pool. Again, pharmas could put their pitches to work, but no one company would have funded the entire works.

Sure, the idea isn't practical, but in my mind, that's how things should work. This would let the pharmas spend all they want on promotions, but take some of the undue influence out of the process.

What do you think, folks. Is this a pipe dream, a possibility or something which could actually work? - Anne

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