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My year without drug reps

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1102 (Published 29 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1102
  1. Shane O’Hanlon, specialist registrar, geriatric medicine, Mercy University Hospital, Cork
  1. sohanlon{at}gmail.com

    It was switching to decaffeinated coffee that started it all. In a flash of lucidity I realised the dubious ethical basis for drug company representatives’ courtship of doctors. I noticed that my pattern of prescribing was mostly learnt from observing colleagues, many of whom sourced drug information primarily from drug representatives. I decided to take a drug rep holiday to see if I could emancipate myself from this moral quandary. My aim was to avoid contact with reps, promotional material, and sponsored sessions. I wondered how I might unsubscribe from their lists—and how they knew so much about each doctor?

    Their calls generally went: “Hi, my name is Alison/Jane from Something-pharma, and I’m just getting to know the new docs. Would you have a few minutes to chat about my product?” The friendly and inviting tone of the first rep during my “holiday” meant I found it difficult to resist at first. But I had scripted my reply: “Sorry, I don’t meet reps.” The brevity of my put-down seemed to stun her. …

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