Our friend Danny Carlat has devoted his recent blog posting:
...to the mailing he received from Schering-Plough regarding their new psychiatric medication. Seems they did not quite get it when Dr. Carlat famously came out of the closet in the national media spotlight as a former paid drug company speaker who had seen the light and vowed to sin no more. They offered him lucrative deals if he'd agree to join the speakers' bureau for the new drug, with a chance to earn up to $170,000 annually. (If you want to see the hourly rates check the blog posting.)
As you can see by the URL above, Dr. Carlat initially had the bad manners to refer to his colleagues who did sign up for the speakers' bureau as "drug whores." That led to a couple of interesting comments on his blog. One commentator objected to the derogatory word "whores" as a form of discrimination against female sex workers who, virtually universally, would be very happy not to be paid sex workers, if only they had a realistic option. Dr. Carlat agreed and so his post is now titled, "Schering-Plough to SAPHRIS Hired Guns: Come and Get It!"
That put me in mind of one of my favorite newspaper letters to the editor. Many years ago, during the infamous OJ trial, a common remark made in the media was that the antics of the defense attorneys were "turning the courtroom into a circus." That led to a letter from a circus ringmaster, who explained in some detail exactly how carefully planned and structured were all the events that went on in all three rings of his circus at any given time. He expressed his sense of insult that anyone would compare his very neatly orchestrated circus with the godawful mess that was the courtroom in question.
So now we have it, my fellow physicians. Female sex workers don't have any real choice as to how to earn a buck. We physicians do. So we ought not call the physicians who become paid speakers for the drug industry "whores," lest we insult the sex workers by the comparison.