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drug crap

remember those lists of useful things you could do with AOL disks? I've been trying to find one that has to do with pharmaceutical promotional products. I'm an electrical engineer, yet every year I somehow wind up getting notepads, pens, magnets, assorted plastic toys, etc., all with the name of some prescription drug printed on them. It angers me to no end. I think the pharmaceutical industry represents a good chunk of what's wrong with our health care system. I know the squeezy balls are a drop in the bucket when you look at what they spend on superbowl commercials or other things... a friend of mine who's a nurse said that she gets free lunch every single day because a different drug company brings in catering for the whole office (not a rare story, from what I understand).

Anyway, since a lot of it can't be recycled I just trash it, which makes me feel bad because it's filling up landfills and everything, but I refuse to use the stuff for its intended purpose. If someone at work asks me for a pen, I'm sure as hell not going to risk handing them one that helps Evil Pharm get more advertising in. When it comes down to it I don't like anyone advertising at me, I think most of it is sleazy, but the drug companies are worse because they're screwing with people's health and entire life savings to do it.

I'm trying to find some way to punish them for wasting our money. er, well honestly, not my money... mostly money from the sick & elderly. Even better!

About a week after the iPhone came out, I was sitting in a bar next to a girl who had one out. I asked her about how she liked it, and then I was like, "Those are expensive! You either really love apple, or you've got a great job!" and she said, I'm not kidding, that she was a pharmaceutical rep. I wasn't sure if there was a tactful way to accuse her of being evil so I didn't. But I was thinking it. Certainly lost my enthusiasm to talk with her much more. I'm really a nice person, too, I'm just frustrated with the way health care works in this country and I see evidence every day of drug companies wasting money... I can only think to blame them.

If this post is way off, let me know. If you work for a drug company and really think you're doing the right thing by making sure every man, woman and child in America gets a magnet with your drug's name on it, let me know. If you work in the health care industry and something else is really to blame with how screwed up it is, let me know. Again, I'm an electrical engineer... I only know what I see.

in the meantime, I'm still open to ideas of how to take my anger out on your notepads.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
I totally agree.

And I got a good laugh out of you icon. I love it!
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
I'm probably going to work in big pharma for a year or so before going back to school. I'm ashamed that they spend the wasteful amounts on advertising. I understand having reps who go around to doctor's offices and bring I don't know - candy or pretzels or something small and speak about the benefits of their drug. I even understand giving small things like notepads or pens to doctors as a promotional tool, but it should stop there. It is in some cases harmful for the general public to get advertisements about products that they don't understand. And it is wasteful to spend on lavish lunches. I understand why some medication is expensive. Only a small (and I mean less than 5% small) number of drugs that are conceived make it to production. It costs mega bucks to take a drug up to that point. All the money is wasted if the drug doesn't actually make it onto the market, so every drug that's out there not only has to pay for it's own cost of testing and production, but for a good number more drugs that didn't make it out of testing. However, all that money on advertising is really pointless.
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
it does freak me out that the general public gets advertisements they can't understand. just last week a girl on the spacefem forums asked US what birth control pill she should try to go on... she hadn't talked with a doctor at all. ahhhh!

people are getting this idea that they should have some drug to ask their doctor about, it didn't used to be like that at all.
Sep. 20th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)
Yeah. It's simply crazy. Reading up on your medications, the side effects, etc. and asking quality questions of your doctor are very important. Suggesting medications based upon TV advertising, bill boards, and note pads is just scary.
Sep. 20th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
Devil's advocate
I would be completely against how the drug companies advertise IF doctors kept up to date. And I'm not just talking about what drugs are available, I'm talkiing up to date about EVERYTHING. I'll give you an example: The american heart association has a protocol for antibiotic premedication before certain dental procedures for people with certain conditions. When there is new, but established, research, the aha will change the protocol. I can't even begin to tell you the number of times that we have had to call up a cardiologist and ask in the most diplomatic way possible, "Is there a particular reason that you want patient X on the older protocol?" Because yeah, the CARDIOLOGIST hasn't read the highly publicized research.

The sad fact of the matter is that patients cannot always rely on their doctors to know the newest or best course of treatment. And yeah, that pertains to medications too. And while there are always going to be those people who walk into their doctor's office and demand a certain drug because they saw it on tv and there are always going to be doctors who pull out their script pads and blindly write it out, knowledge is power. And while they may be irritating or distasteful (Cialis people taking baths outside - who the hell does that?), those ads are the jumping off point for research and discussion.
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
i dont ever hear nurses complain about drug companies, but i do hear them complain about insurance.
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
I don't think drug companies are completely evil -- I mean, it IS a capitalist society, and companies are there to make money, hands down. If it weren't for big pharma, who would be pouring billions of dollars into researching and manufacturing new drugs? Certainly I wouldn't trust the government to do that (at least not too efficiently). However, I do hatehatehate the TV/print ads for new drugs, because patients come into their doctors' offices demanding various drugs they've seen in ads, and it's hard to explain to people why those particular drugs aren't the best choice for them. But then, the internet in general also causes a similar headache for doctors, with all the pseudo health sites out there. So I definitely don't think pharm companies are the root of all evil in our healthcare system.
Sep. 20th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
A few ideas... Put stickers on the pens with website addresses to good information on pharmaceutical companies, possibly even with information directly regarding the imprinted company. Most people don't even notice what is imprinted on their pens, but if there is a sticker on it they will and will actually get some good information. You can always reuse magnets, especially the flat sheet ones. A lot of times you can peel off the top layer, otherwise you can just glue/stick something else on top of it. You could also start collecting everything you get. Stuff it all in a box, maybe even fill it with anti-pharmaceutical propaganda or just peanuts that they have to sift through, and mail it to one of the companies.
Sep. 20th, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
I like the idea of putting your own sticker over their stuff- put a sticker on for a cause you feel strongly about, then at least if the pen gets passed on it's for something useful.
Sep. 20th, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
You could also donate it to a company that does something you like (Goodwill or a political organization that you like to help out). Office supplies are always needed in non-profits, and they don't care what it says.
Sep. 20th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
I think for most offices daily lunches are a thing of the past for several reasons - public opinion partially, economy even more. Drug companies pockets are less deep these days, just like everyone else. I worked for a month in a nice private practice office with 6 docs - they had one lunch over the month I was there. A fair number of reps came in and certainly they had pens and such but that was about it...a few mini-candy bars here and there and honestly the only person I remember with that was the formula guy - there's a lot of money spent on advertising! I think that insurance games are a much bigger evil and honestly the general lack of desire to keep oneself healthy is probably the biggest evil in our healthcare systen. I LOVE the blue cross blue shield billboards that say things like cardiac bypass $15,000 running shoes $50.
Sep. 20th, 2007 11:42 am (UTC)
interesting point. my company went to a high-deductible health care system recently, so people who use health care are paying more, and everybody FREAKED. People assume that 0% of health care needs are their fault. But I get called evil when I speak otherwise at work (since I'm young and family-less and don't use healthcare, I just "don't understand") so I keep pretty quiet about it.
Sep. 20th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
Some of our clinics have drug-rep lunches every day, notably the breast cancer clinic where I've spent much of the past month. Drug pens are rampant. I do eat the drug rep lunches, and I feel terribly guilty about it, but I generally won't touch the pens. This is mostly because I know so little about current prescribing practice for a given class of medication that I don't want to have a subconscious predisposition to one drug over the others in its class. Also, generally the newest, most expensive drugs are advertised this way, and often an older, cheaper drug with generic availability is as good or better of a choice.

Most doctors believe they won't be influenced by small gifts, but psychological research demonstrates a significant feeling of obligation incurred by even minor gifts. As one of my friends put it succintly, the drug companies wouldn't give out the pens if they didn't work.
Sep. 20th, 2007 07:47 am (UTC)
Can't you remove the name of the company in some way - scrape them off pens with razor blades, or scribble all over the logos in the notebooks before you write anything?
Sep. 20th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
Give the squeezy balls to your police department. They can give them to kids in bad situations or whatever.
Sep. 20th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
2 things:

1) The doctor's office I worked in for about 3 months actually didn't have Rep lunches when I started there (the doctor believed the same things you do, that they waste money, etc) and had to get back into a schedule of having them every few weeks. The Reps stopped bringing us the free samples of the drugs if we wouldn't let them come in and talk to us about whatever they were handling. So, there are some doctors out there who are trying to cut back on that cost . . .

2) How do you feel about the fact that the Reps hand out TONS of free samples of the drugs? I'm torn. Having worked in the field(albeit shortly) I know how important those samples are to the patients that can't afford to pay for the expensive drugs they need. Hell, I have probably only bought my BC pills four months out of the last 12 or so because my gyn office has the samples on hand and is more than happy to give them out if you can't pay for it that month. On the other hand, I can't even imagine what amount of money goes into giving out those free drugs. If they didn't give out any free samples, wouldn't the cost of the drug go down and maybe people wouldn't have to rely on getting freebies? And wouldn't people (both patients and doctors) be able to make better choices about what drugs they used instead of just having to go with the freebies because that's what they can get?
. . .
Ahh, I just re-read that and realized how good that sounds for the Drug companies. *handface*
Sep. 20th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Death by pharmaceuticals!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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