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…