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Pharmaceutical Marketing: Two Drug Industry Veterans Debate The Issues
Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau who spent 10 years working as a sales representative for three pharmaceutical companies has just produced a documentary, Money Talks, that contends the FDA is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry.  (See this post on Envisioning 2.0 for more on the documentary.) 

Slattery-Moschkau was interviewed late last week on the Crusador Blog about her experiences working in the industry.  She talks about how she felt she had to leave the her job when she "couldn't look herself in the mirror" anymore because of the work she did on behalf of drug firms.  What's interesting is that a 16 year drug industry veteran, who posted anonymously, took the time to rebut some of her arguments. I found the point-counterpoint interesting and have highlighted some of their debate below. 

[Via PharmaGossip]
Slattery-Moschkau On Patient Safety vs. Profits

"I was completely evaluated. My whole job surrounded how many pills I could push, and how many prescriptions I could get the doctors in my territory to write for those particular drugs. Patient safety, what was in the best interest of the patient, always took a back seat. When I say that, it’s because it all came down to market share. How I was evaluated as a rep, how I was paid as a rep and my ability to keep my job as a rep solely came down to my ability to push that particular drug with the physicians in my territory.  Whatever tactics worked to drive that market share is what they wanted you to do."

The Industry Veteran Responds

"Someone like Kathleen did not take the time, effort or understand the responsibility of what she was doing and work with physicians in a responsible manner. It is a shame that the only representatives that are heard from are the ones who are not committed to providing high quality information that is fair and balanced without all the industry perks. There are a lot of us out there who take our credibility seriously and would never push a product beyond the bounds of what we believe are not in a patient's best interest. The physicians that know us, respect us for our honesty, integrity and look to us true resources and partners in patient care."

Slattery-Moschkau On DTC Advertising

"We’re being bombarded with beautiful drug ads 24/7. They’re effective. They cost the pharmaceutical industry millions to make and to run on prime time spots. But they’re willing to do it because they generate billions of dollars in sales. We are not only walking into our doctors’ offices and asking for these drugs, we’re walking in now, demanding them and saying if you don’t give me this, because I saw it on TV and this is what it does, I’m going to go somewhere else." 

[Editor's Note:  An analysis released in July by the  MBS/Vox unit of CommonHealth indicates that few patients ask about advertised drugs in visits with doctors.  This is a surprising finding because it is widely assumed that DTC advertisements drive Rxs.  In fact the FDA conducted a study in 2003 indicating that 92 percent of doctors say they can remember an instance where a patient initiated a conversation "about a prescription drug they saw advertised." 

John Mack, author of the Pharma Marketing Blog speculated on why the CommonHealth study contradicts the FDA's findings, saying: "To be counted in [the CommonHealth] study -- if I understand the methodology -- a patient would have to mention BOTH a brand name AND that he or she read about it or saw it advertised on TV.  If the consumer said 'What about Viagra? Is that OK for me?', the CommonHealth study would not count this, whereas the FDA study may." 

At this point it is difficult to fully analyze the study because CommonHealth is not widely distributing the study's methodology.

The Industry Veteran Responds

"Over $1 billion in R&D is spent on any new product before the first pill is sold. Patent life on a product is 17 years from the date of registration, which means if the FDA sits on a safe effective drug for several years, it comes off of the patent life driving up the price for the consumers. The less time pharmaceutical companies have to recoup their investment, the higher the price of the drug. Numerous examples exist of pharmaceuticals that have been approved with substantial patent lives have significantly lower consumer cost than their competitors."

4 Comments/Trackbacks

I read the Slattery-Moschkau’s interview. I was impressed about what she declares. It is the whole truth about marketing strategise of the pharmaceutical companies. Thank you for posting. I found it amazing! Very good work!

It is the whole truth about marketing strategise of the pharmaceutical companies. Thank you for posting. I found it amazing

I hate drug commercials! As if the pharmaceutical companies don't have enough money already they need to push drugs onto people who probably don't need them.

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