In today’s New York Times Magazine, Daniel Carlat, a Massachusetts psychiatrist, describes his experiences in “detailing” for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. “Pharmaceutical ‘detailing’ is the term used to describe those sales visits in which drug reps go to doctorsâ€™ offices to describe the benefits of a specific drug.” The term also encompasses the visits made by physicians like Dr. Carlat, who are paid a stipend to speak to colleagues about the benefits of certain drugs. In Dr. Carlat’s case, he was promoting the anti-depressant, Effexor. However, over time, he found himself “tweaking and pruning the truth in order to stay positive about the product,” despite certain reservations about its use. As a result of his uneasiness, he modified his presentations to provide a more balanced perspective. Here is what happened next:
Several days later, I was visited by the same district manager who first offered me the speaking job. Pleasant as always, he said: â€œMy reps told me that you werenâ€™t as enthusiastic about our product at your last talk. I told them that even Dr. Carlat canâ€™t hit a home run every time. Have you been sick?â€?
At that moment, I decided my career as an industry-sponsored speaker was over. The managerâ€™s message couldnâ€™t be clearer: I was being paid to enthusiastically endorse their drug. Once I stopped doing that, I was of little value to them, no matter how much â€œmedical educationâ€? I provided.
The entire article is well worth reading. It is entitled: Dr. Drug Rep.