Former Eli Lilly salesman Shahram Ahari, who spent two years selling the anti-depressants Prozac and Zypraxa told a Senate hearing some gritty details about how Big Pharma greases the wheels of doctor’s office’s with expensive gifts, generous free samples as well as relying on good looking sales people to exploit sexual tension in order to enhance the sales relationship.
Former cheerleaders, models and athletes are favored over people who actually know science according to Ahari.
Of course there is nothing surprising about hiring a sales person based on their looks and charisma or using financial incentives to increase sales. After all that’s part of business, right?
Yet it gets a little bit more disturbing when that prescription you’re getting may have less to do with your diagnosis and more to do with the fact that your doctor’s drug rep is sexy and that he or she is also paying for the monthly dues at their health club.
As quoted in an ABC News story “rewarding physicians with gifts and attention for their allegiance to your product” is standard operating procedure,” adding “The nature of this business is gift-giving.”
A lot of this isn’t all the new but the fact that the Senate is looking into these abuses perhaps is. Check out our best book of 2005 Generation RX for a look at the history of how marketing took over science in the pharmaceutical industry.