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Reviews FILM

Confessions of a drug rep

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 14 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:911
  1. Jeanne Lenzer, medical investigative journalist (
  1. Kingston, New York state, USA

A forthcoming movie claims to spill the beans on Big Pharma

Think big. Think money. Think drugs. And then think of all the sly, silly, ethically impaired things that people will do to sell drugs, and you'll have a taste of Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau's film, Side Effects.

Slattery-Moschkau (pronounced Moscow, “like the city”) sold drugs for a living for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson, until she found it increasingly difficult to “look myself in the mirror,” and left her job after 10 years in the industry.

An aspiring screenwriter since her college years, Slattery-Moschkau, wrote, directed, and produced Side Effects, a satirical film about the dilemma of Karly Hert (Katherine Heigl), a drug representative torn between her conscience and some really good perks. Hert's company plans to roll out “the biggest drug launch of the 21st century” for its new antidepressant, Vivexx, which they enthusiastically promote as “absolutely the most efficacious drug your patients can use!” while cheerfully predicting that “Vivexx will make Prozac look like penny candy.”

Hert, who suffers pangs of conscience about some of the promotional techniques encouraged by her managers, launches a …

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