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Arabian nights—1001 tales of how pharmaceutical companies cater to the material needs of doctors: case report

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1563
  1. Ioannis A Giannakakis, general practitionera,
  2. John P A Ioannidis, chairman (jioannid{at}
  1. a. Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina 45110, Greece,
  2. b. Clinical Trials and Evidence-Based Medicine Unit, University of Ioannina School of Medicine
  1. Correspondence to: J P A Ioannidis


Objective: To describe how pharmaceutical companies cater to the material needs of doctors.

Design: Case report of memoirs.

Setting: Facilities that have nothing to do with medicine, somewhere in the Arabian peninsula.

Patient population: Random sample of doctors.

Interventions: Promotion by the pharmaceutical industry.

Main outcome measures: Short term outcomes were travel, pleasure, amusement, and gifts, and long term outcomes were the market share of specific companies.

Results: Short term outcomes were heterogeneous, underlying the diversity of the means employed by the pharmaceutical industry to subvert, divert, and influence medical practice. Overall, 200 doctors were dressed in white gowns, a doctor in preventive medicine quoted Hippocrates in favour of smoking, a senior doctor became a poet, a doctor trying to understand the Methods section of a poster paper wondered whether he should have been sunbathing at the beach instead, and two women doctors were kidnapped by Bedouin warriors. Long term outcomes on the sales of the company drugs are pending but are likely to be most favourable.

Conclusions: Eat, drink, be merry, and boost prescriptions.


  • Competing interests None declared.

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