Former Public Citizen research associate Jonas Hines and his medical school friends put together this video lampooning the pharma industry’s corrupting influence on doctors. It’s a great follow up to their earlier hit Still Just Some Guy (Not a Doctor Yet). While the video is fun, the message is serious. Big Pharma spends big bucks wooing doctors with cash, gifts, trips and other perks. In 2003, the pharma industry spent $25.3 billion on marketing to doctors. This is from Public Citizen’s 2007 testimony to a Senate committee:
Physicians typically claim that they are unaffected by such interactions (although they are willing to acknowledge that their colleagues might be influenced). But pharmaceutical companies would not be catering to the culinary and travel preferences of physicians if they thought their efforts were for nought. The evidence strongly suggests that the companies are right. For instance, contact with pharmaceutical company representatives is associated with changes in the prescribing practices of residents and physicians and more rapid adoption of new drugs by prescribers.
It’s encouraging that medical students recognize this problem and want to do something about it. Check out the American Medical Student Association’s Web Site, PharmFree to learn more about their campaign to bring accountability to the medical profession.