Monday, August 6, 2007

Excellent Series in LA Times on Pharma's Influence

Los Angeles Times reporter Melisa Healy has assembled a great series of articles, appearing today (August 6) in the Health section of that paper:

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-drugintro6aug06,1,6647049.story?coll=la-headlines-health

See this article and click the several links for "related articles." Disclosure: Yours truly is prominently featured in the last in the series.

Here are some fact-updates from a couple of the articles:

According to Dartmouth marketing professor Scott Neslin, the return on investment for $1 spent on the following marketing techniques by the drug industry are: advertising in medical journals, $5.00; meetings or continuing education, $3.56; direct to consumer ads, $1.37; average detailing of drugs to physicians, $1.72; detailing of aggressively marketed drugs, >$10. (This shows why the industry is starting to sour on DTC ads, and continues to surprise us as to how great the payoff is from the old-fashioned journal ad.)

Data on drug reps: Healy estimates there are still about 100,000 of them despite recent talk of layoffs; they earn on average $81K annually (she does not say if this is before or after bonuses).

1 comment:

Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

This was a wonderful group of articles. The LA Times has been going through some changes of late, many of which I don't like, but I keep up my subscription because of articles like these.

I happened to be with our daughter the other day when she was visiting a doctor and this well-dressed man and woman arrived with gourmet coffee and other goodies which I soon learned were being given to the physicians and staff as they attempted to sell the good doctors of this corporate office (a 'medical corporation') on the virtues of Celebrex. Needless to say, I thought this to be a rather crass way to communicate the pharmaceutical properties and therapeutic benefits of this drug. Our daughter, college age, was in utter disbelief as she queried: "Isn't that like bribery dad?" Pretty damn close I said, just the sort of fuzzy boundaries Big Pharma is so adept at exploiting. I've told my wife the next time I visit my doctor I'll have several pages of the names of sundry pills and medicines that I need to ask him about, apropos the ubiquitous advertising that makes me think I might be missing out on something (especially a more hyper-active sexual life).