Drug Makers Pay for Lunch as They Pitch

from NYTs

Anyone who thinks there is no such thing as a free lunch has never visited 3003 New Hyde Park Road, a four-story medical building on Long Island, where they are delivered almost every day.

On a recent Tuesday, they began arriving around noon. Steaming containers of Chinese food were destined for the 20 or so doctors and employees of Nassau Queens Pulmonary Associates. The drug maker Merck paid the $258 bill.

More here.

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One Response to Drug Makers Pay for Lunch as They Pitch

  1. Rubi Leyva-Rodriguez September 9, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

    When reading this article, I was very intrigued because a lot of the things talked about in this article are very relevant to my field. The amount of money being spent by pharmaceutical companies in their “modest lunches” are anything but modest. To be more specific, “the average representative deals with a monthly lunch budget of close to $2,000”. On the other hand, working at a specialty pharmacy and having lunches paid by pharmaceutical reps every Friday, I can see an immediate impact on the business which is both good and bad.

    First, I think we must acknowledge that this kind of business has been around for a while. Mr. Carolan said some interesting points mentioning that he got into giving free lunches because the feds cracked down on more extravagant things they were doing such as “dinners, courtside N.B.A games, and flying them to the islands”. All of which are far much more expensive than the lunches being provided now. There is no question that pharmaceutical companies are spending a good amount of money in these treats to try and market themselves and make more revenue for the company. However, no business is guaranteed to be made in exchange of the free lunches and small gifts. Additionally, other than commercials on tv, there is not much to do to market a new drug that is out and ready to be used. I do also believe that the free lunches set the mood to be talking about a new drug or business idea and has been used for decades as it’s seen as “highly effective”.

    At first, I agreed with Dr. Evans opinion that “It’s an issue of professionalism and integrity, really”. I do firmly believe that doctors and other health care professionals should be looking at the patient’s best interest with no influence on bonuses and “free lunches”. Dr. Scott also mentioned, “most doctors said they were not influenced by food deliveries and other small gifts but they do influence prescribing”. This is quite alarming as the patient being prescribe these medications because it makes you wonder if your doctors are now prescribing something they firmly believe works or if it was suggested by a pharmaceutical rep. However, the issue might be a lot more complicated than just a morality question. I must also point out that the free samples provided by the pharmaceutical reps along with coupons are a huge help to the patients. Working with patients getting medications like these on a first-hand basis, I see how they benefit tremendously from the free samples and coupons given to them at their doctor’s office. The coupons bring their medications to an affordable cost so the patient can obtain the meds that otherwise would be too costly to pay for. A lot of times I see that by the time they are responsible to pay for the medication, they no longer need to be on the medication and/or there is a much more affordable generic. However, I can’t help to wonder that if the pharmaceutical reps would not spend close to 1 billion in lunches, if this would help bring down the cost of the medications to something that is much more affordable for the patients.

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