misuse of detailed data to sell medications

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Lawsuit points out misuse of detailed data on what drugs doctors prescribed by pharmaceuticals

A lawsuit filed by an ex employee of Parke Davis against his former employer, claims that the pharmaceutical collects detailed information on what drugs each doctor prescribes and then, uses this data to push doctors to prescribe their drugs.

The fact that drug reps reward doctors for prescribing their medications with not so inexpensive rewards like trips to seminars etc is well known and something about which the AMA has expressed some concern.

But some doctors did not know the detailed information the drug reps were collecting about what they prescribe.

An article in the Boston Globe, 5-25-03, revealed some interesting details:

Several months ago, a pharmaceutical company salesman told Dr. Mario Motta something that surprised him. The salesman, who had scheduled a 15-minute appointment with Motta, said he knew that the doctor had been prescribing a competitor's cardiac drugs -- and he wanted Motta to switch.

Motta had never discussed his personal prescribing habits with the salesman. ''I said `How would you know that?' '' Motta recalled. ''I couldn't get it out of him, so I told him to leave.''

Drug makers, in a level of detail unknown to many physicians, are spending millions of dollars to develop secret reports about individual doctors and their patients, according to consultants to the drug companies.


Dr. Mark Rohrer, an internist and geriatrician at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston told the Globe reporter:

''The amount of information they have about us and our prescribing is staggering. The important thing is how it's used. If it's used by a rep to pressure me to provide a different drug than the one I'm prescribing, especially if there's a generic alternative, I don't think that's right.''

Several pharmaceutical corporations including Eli Lilly and Wyeth refused to comment on prescription profiling.  The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group also would not comment to the Globe reporter.

Some  claim that this profiling is a protection which allows pharmaceuticals to immediately alert a doctor about a problem with a drug, and patients names are not included but what it seems to be protecting the most is the drug company's sales of their drugs.

Source: Boston Globe, 5/25/03