Drug rep describes pharma marketing tactics

In yet another behind-the-scenes look at the drug industry, a former drug rep and a researcher who studies pharma marketing have published research outlining the pharma sales strategies. The article, which appears in journal PLoS Medicine, describe how drug reps use gifts, dinners, free samples and personal ties to manipulate physicians' prescribing patterns. Reps may also cozy up to office staffers if physicians won't meet with them. What's more, they usually come armed with data on doctors' existing prescribing patterns, sold to them by companies like IMS Health.

Physicians commonly say that they're aware of these tactics, and can't be swayed in how they practice medicine--but studies suggest that gifts do in fact influence prescribing patterns. The study's authors, former Eli Lilly rep Shahram Ahari and Georgetown University Medical Center's Adriane Fugh-Berman, argue that physicians are being being played, and should avoid getting scientific information from reps.

To find out more about the study:
- read this United Press International piece

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