Turning off the drug company drip feed to doctors
"In the United States, the world's biggest drug company Pfizer has agreed to pay a record US$2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal actions brought against it for illegally marketing a painkiller that has since been withdrawn from sale.
Pfizer allegedly instructed sales staff to tell doctors that the drug Bextra could be used to treat acute pain at doses well above those approved by health authorities, even though dangerious side effects - risks to kidneys, skin and heart - increased with dosage.
It's a blatant example of a pharmaceutical company trying to boost profits by swaying the professional decisions of clinicians - something that also happens here in Australia - whether it's drug company freebies like the branded pens and notepads that litter doctors desks, or industry sponsored conferences and education sessions.
Regulating the relationship between doctors and drug companies is an issue that has been excercising the mind of Philip Mitchell, Scientia Professor and Head of the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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