I thought Roy was going to write about the psychiatrist drug rep who wrote about his year of selling his soul in today's New York Times Magazine. Apparently Roy went shopping, and then he got eaten by a Leopard (is that the new Apple thing?)
In "Dr. Drug Rep," Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist in Newburyport, Mass, talks about the year he worked for Wyeth pharmaceuticals. He visited the offices of primary care physicians and talked about the wonders of Effexor. He describes his ambivalence and conflicts-- the money he made was good. Oh, never mind, the money was great-- he was getting up to $750 an hour to talk to docs over lunch. But he felt like he was minimizing the risk of hypertension and withdrawal symptoms. Dr. Carlat writes:
I wrestled with how to handle this issue in my Effexor talks, since I believed it was a significant disadvantage of the drug. Psychiatrists frequently have to switch medications because of side effects or lack of effectiveness, and anticipating this potential need to change medications plays into our initial choice of a drug. Knowing that Effexor was hard to give up made me think twice about prescribing it in the first place.
During my talks, I found myself playing both sides of the issue, making sure to mention that withdrawal symptoms could be severe but assuring doctors that they could “usually” be avoided. Was I lying? Not really, since there were no solid published data, and indeed some patients had little problem coming off Effexor. But was I tweaking and pruning the truth in order to stay positive about the product? Definitely. And how did I rationalize this? I convinced myself that I had told “most” of the truth and that the potential negative consequences of this small truth “gap” were too trivial to worry about.
And on another note, ClinkShrink mentioned to me tonight that writing doesn't come easily to her-- huh?! Some words of encouragement anyone?
And Roy, quicker on the uptake here! Hope you enjoy the new purchases. I hope you don't mind that I stole your topic....