Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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Sep 02


A little while ago, a row about doctors receiving perks from pharmaceutical companies hit the front page of the SMH. It’s supposedly unethical, although the last line of the article just about sums up the situation: “There are more politicians who have been entertained on Sydney Harbour than doctors.”

But anyway, I went to a dinner put on by a drug company last Saturday. A very nice seafood dinner at Golden Century in Chinatown – a reasonable $1000 meal for 14 of us (4 doctors and their families, and drug reps). I don’t really know what the dinner’s purpose was, because nothing about drugs was really mentioned. Except for the time when one of the doctors was recounting a time when he was having a bad day. He was filling out some medical paperwork while listening to a drug rep give a sales pitch. Upon being told by the drug rep to “pay attention” to him and not the paperwork, the doctor then replied in no uncertain terms to “get out”, and the rep left rather taken aback and red faced. Dinners like that are a bit suspect, but I think most people have come to recognise that the whole doctors and freebies thing is like, part of the job. All it is, essentially, is part of marketing by drug companies. Is it different in principle to corporate sales executives wining and dining their clients? Ultimately, not really. It just happens more often with doctors. And it was a nice meal.

REPORTER: The setting: One of Sydney’s most exclusive restaurants, Level 41. The host, again: Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. The occasion: Well, over some of the country’s best food and wine our invited doctors are tonight discussing … gastroenterology. On their way out, we decided it was time to ask the obvious question:

REPORTER: Do you think a drug company should be bringing you here?

FEMALE DOCTOR: Yes, yes, we had such a good time.

REPORTER: But really they’re just trying to sell you drugs aren’t they?

FEMALE DOCTOR: They’re not. It’s for education. Now don’t get it wrong. It’s purely for education. Do you hear the word Zoton the whole night.

REPORTER: So they weren’t pushing the drug.

FEMALE DOCTOR: No, it was not mentioned at all.

REPORTER: You think it makes no difference that they bring you to the most expensive restaurant in town.

FEMALE DOCTOR: It’s … ah … how can I put it. They’re marketing a drug and it’s just a means of getting together and sharing experiences. We talk about medicine. We have a good time. But Zoton, that product, is insignificant in these evenings.

REPORTER: Even though it’s at this restaurant.

FEMALE DOCTOR: Ummmmmm. There’s a lot of restaurants. Buon Ricordo. And ah Tetsuya. We go to some lovely places.

Free dinner at… Tetsuya’s?!?! Holy crap. Time to get Dad to call up Wyeth :) hehe… Hmm, I don’t think it works that way though… well, a man can dream, can’t he? :)