Neutralizing physicians?

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There's an interesting article in today's New York Times (free registration req'd) about how Merck went about playing catch-up when Celebrex was released before its Vioxx was.

Drug companies routinely try to woo doctors to prescribe or promote their drugs, taking them out to fancy meals, hiring them as speakers, or contributing to medical schools. But the internal Merck documents offer a rare, behind-the-scenes look into the extremes of this process - one that may have blurred the line between legitimate promotion and offering inducements to doctors to prescribe a drug.

My favorite part is how the company explained its reference in the documents about "neutralizing" physicians: "Merck said that when doctors had 'misinformation' or a 'lack of information' about a drug, it 'provided information to bring them back to a balanced or neutral position.'"

On pharma's plus side, also in today's Times is an article about how Pfizer is teaming up with Microsoft to get rid of spam offering generic Viagra. Sure, the company doesn't want the competition from cheaper knock-offs, but it's also good for the public health to make sure what people are taking is actually what they think they're taking. Plus, it'd lighten up my in-box, and that's a good thing.

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