Need a little adrenaline to go with your coffee this morning? Check out this excerpt of an article by Marcia Angell, author of The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It, in the December 7 issue of CMAJ, sent by Anne Taylor-Vaisey:
The medical profession has largely abdicated its responsibility to educate medical students and doctors in the use of prescription drugs. Drug companies now support most continuing medical education, medical conferences and meetings of professional associations.10 Although they call it education, the billions of dollars they put into it comes out of their marketing budgets. The industry also provides students, house officers and physicians in practice with meals, trips to exotic locations and many other blandishments. Although medical and industry associations have issued guidelines that would limit these gifts, codes of conduct are entirely voluntary and full of loopholes.
Although it is self-evidently absurd for medical professionals to look to an investor-owned company for an impartial, critical evaluation of its own products, there is ample evidence that marketing masquerading as education does increase the use of a drug; indeed, if it did not, heads would roll in executive suites, since these companies are not charities. And so why does the profession pretend to believe that drug companies, in contrast with all other businesses, can provide objective information about their own products? Unfortunately, the answer is because it pays in CME credits, perks and free lunches. But ask yourselves, fellow physicians, why drug companies should be giving you any gifts at all, especially since they just tack the costs on to the price of drugs. The profession should pay for its own education, just as other professions do.
Like that's going to happen in our lifetimes.
Here is a review of The Truth About the Drug Companies from the New York Review of Books.
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