Big Pharma Pressures Doctors in the Developing World


A new air conditioner, washing machine, microwave, camera, television, expensive crystals, and a luxury vacation.

A fabulous Showcase Showdown package? Nope. Just some of the loot that pharmaceutical companies like GSK, Novartis, Roche, and Wyeth are offering doctors in the developing world in exchange for prescribing their drugs, according to a report just released by Consumers International.

If all that schwag isn’t enough to raise your hackles, consider the fact that as part of their promotional strategies, drug companies often bend the truth about the pills they’re pushing. An example from the report:

An article in the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana’s
(PSGH) newsletter claimed “Lifestyle modifications [such as diet and exercise]
alone are usually ineffective in maintaining weight loss on a long term basis
so there is usually the need to institute supported drug therapy.” While other
types of treatments are mentioned, Roche’s Xenical is the only branded
product named in the article. Below the packaged Xenical pills, as pictured
on the left, the article advised readers to get customers to take one pill after
a fatty meal.

No wonder, then, that another recent study found that 50 percent of drugs in the developing world are misprescribed.