We’re From Big Pharma, and We’re Here to Educate You

Here’s something to brighten your morning, from the Op-Ed pages of the Boston Globe: Does a drug firm’s free lunch influence doctors?

JUST WHAT is the best and most appropriate way for a company that researches and manufactures a prescription medicine to educate physicians about the products it develops? It’s a question that is increasingly being discussed in academic and political circles, yet too often those leading the discussions know little about the pharmaceutical industry’s commitment to patient education

The author — who happens to be a lawyer for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — goes on to assure us that all the attention lavished on physicians by the industry is 100% useful, 100% safe. Besides, he chides, to think that physicians might be influenced is just insulting. (Nevermind whether there’s evidence that it happens, which there is.)

Indeed, the errors of reasoning in this piece are legion. I won’t speculate as to whether the author knows it.

Art Caplan at the AJOB Blog gets it right: “Look, I am willing to concede that worries about conflicts of interest have in many ways gotten a bit out of hand but, touting big Pharma as an objective source of information on drug use for docs strains credulity well beyond the breaking point. This op ed made me laugh….”

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