November 25, 2007
"Dr. Drug Rep"
The NYT magazine has an interesting piece written by Daniel Carlat, the author of the Carlat Psychiatry Blog and the Carlat Psychiatry Report. Carlat worked as a paid consultant to Wyeth in marketing Effexor, an SSRI, and his NYT piece reports his experiences. A representative excerpt:
The first talk I gave brought me back to earth rather quickly. I distinctly remember the awkwardness of walking into my first waiting room. The receptionist slid the glass partition open and asked if I had an appointment.
“Actually, I’m here to meet with the doctor.”
“Oh, O.K. And is that a scheduled appointment?”
“I’m here to give a talk.”
A light went on. “Oh, are you part of the drug lunch?”
Regardless of how I preferred to think of myself (an educator, a psychiatrist, a consultant), I was now classified as one facet of a lunch helping to pitch a drug, a convincing sidekick to help the sales rep. Eventually, with an internal wince, I began to introduce myself as “Dr. Carlat, here for the Wyeth lunch.”
The drug rep who arranged the lunch was always there, usually an attractive, vivacious woman with platters of gourmet sandwiches in tow. Hungry doctors and their staff of nurses and receptionists would filter into the lunch room, grateful for free food.
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