Ex-drug salesman: We lured docs with gifts

Boston Globe 

By Christine McConville

We all want to think that our doctors prescribe pain pills for our aching backs because it’s what we need, and not because a charming ex-cheerleader turned drug company sales rep has invited him to a Red Sox game.

But, according to a former drug salesman, that second scenario may be closer to the truth.

“We were the beautiful people,” Shahram Ahari, a former Eli Lilly “drug detailer,” told a group of Boston University medical students last week.

Ahari, who spent two years promoting drugs such as Prozac and Zyprexa, is telling the medical students what to watch out for when the sales reps come calling.

He is working with The Prescription Project, a group fighting the impact of pharmaceutical marketing on physicians’ prescription decisions.

The group contends that aggressive marketing to physicians by pharmaceutical companies creates conflicts of interest in the medical profession and raises questions about the appropriateness of treatment choices.

Many blame drug companies’ aggressive marketing efforts for a portion of the rise in health-care costs, because physicians are swayed into prescribing newer, more expensive medicines instead of older, less expensive brands…


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One response to “Ex-drug salesman: We lured docs with gifts

  1. Paul

    I hope that this bill in MA passes; the new law will be an important ‘gift’ to citizens in Massachusetts. Since they took the teeth out of ‘truth in advertising’ laws, people in sales can say or do most anything while plying their trade.

    It will not bring back the quality of life that I ought to have enjoyed while I was prescribed 3 of the atypicals because I showed some risk of experiencing a brief atypical depression-related psychosis every year or two if untreated. But to be ‘certain’ that I didn’t, I was supposed to take these ”new” generation of antipsychotics
    daily without fail.

    Apparently the psychiatrist who initiated Zyprexa in my case was sold (or ‘oversold’) by one of the kind of disreputable drug rep that is descibed on this site; he conveyed to me the message verbatim that was told to him, that in FDA tests, patients treated with Zyprexa had (emphasis mine) “NO SIDE EFFECTS” from the use of it. A veteran of many years of different kinds of this class of drug, I thought that the Doc was joking and waiting for my response. I had asked him to relay this kind of salesmanship on a prior visit, and he had agreed to warn me if he had
    heard such claims or recieved expensive gifts. He replied by showing me the fancy new bit of computer hardware, a wireless printer/modem from which he said that he could write his patient notes from a jet plane.

    Instead of the “no side effects” result predicted, I did, indeed, feel faintness, dizzyness, a constant thirst that was unquenchable, developed age spots rapidly on the skin of my feet (like prediabetics will) and gained 40 lbs. I had much sedation, and
    frequently had to rearrange my plans to take mid-day naps. There is apparently some question as to the efficiency of my liver and its ability to metabolize lipids (fats.)

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