Trinkets and Lunches and Dollars for Docs Really Do Pay Off


Mad in America readers will not be astonished by the news that Big PhRMA showers physicians with “free” trinkets and samples and lunches and dinners and junkets and dollars.  Such tactics are common throughout the world of commerce, where they are described by terms ranging from “promotion” to “commercial bribery.” But do bribe-like actions ensnare physicians?

Medicine, after all, is a profession.  Its practitioners rise above the money-grubbing level of the marketplace.  At least, that’s the theory.

Strong evidence that putting money and other valuables in the right hands pays off, even when those hands belong to members of a learned profession, comes from a source that may not be on the reading list of many MadinAmerica readers.  FiercePharmaMarketing, an industry newsletter for pharmaceutical marketing executives is, as they say in the industry, “laser-focused” on the marketing executive’s mission: selling more drugs.        

 FiercePharma’s March 21, 2016, edition features exciting data from a recent ProPublica investigation.  It’s available here.

ProPublica’s data show that freebies for docs really do sell.

“Payments and gifts do influence many doctors . . . Even small handouts—such as free meals and payments worth $100 or less—tweaked branded scripts [prescriptions] upward.  . . . Doctors who participated were two to three times more likely to prescribe brands than those who didn’t.”

The hints for pharmaceutical executives continue: “The bigger the value of payments and gifts, the more branded scripts.  . . . Doctors who received more than $5,000 . . . chalked up the highest percentage of branded scripts.”

For the industry, the message is: “gifts” for physicians pay off.  Even small payments bring in big bucks.

For the rest of us, the lesson is—but we leave that to you, Mad in America’s readers.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. I couldn’t get the link to the ProPublica article to open, and the link to the FiercePharmaMarketing article took me to a google site. Not sure if I’m the only one who had issues.

    Thanks for pointing out the problems inherent in the pharmaceutical bribery of doctors. And it is a shame the medical community believes a higher level of education, equates to a higher level of ethics, since I did not personally find this to be true. Quite to the contrary, it was confessed to me by an ethical pastor, who was kind enough to read my medical records and research, that I’d dealt with the historic “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.” Resulting in my losing a tremendous amount of respect for both the “well educated” medical and religious leaders of today.

    We’re all just people, and people are imperfect, irregardless of how much formal education they do, or do not have, or what profession they chose. Thus we all need to start working together in a mutually respectful manner to help bring about a better world. Rather than having a few so called “well educated” / or miseducated doctors, going around hypocritically defaming, poisoning, torturing, and killing millions of innocent people, for profit.

    I’m quite shocked so many “professionals” did not learn such behavior was immoral long ago, given the psychiatrists did almost the same exact thing during WWII. It’s just that now the psychiatrists create iatrogenic “mental illnesses” with their drugs, rather than just claiming being a Jew or gypsy is a “mental illness.” Today’s psychiatric behavior is more insideous, but not more acceptable.

    I do so hope more mainstream doctors and health professionals will wake up to the wisdom of old, the psychiatrists are still nothing more than quacks.

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    • I recently accessed my medical notes to find they were written on pages with an Effexor logo and blurb- just a handy dandy doctor’s note pad.
      My GP, I discovered later through conversations with a number of random people, was a big proponent of prescribing Effexor for “depression”, often situational depression brought on by bereavement or stress or divorce. She then kept patients on the drug for decades or for life. Was this because of “payouts” or bc, once addicted, the horrific withdrawals of her victims meant she had stupidly and ignorantly created patients for life? The crying, brain zaps, anxiety that surfaced with something as simple as a single missed dose had her declaring that the “disease” was “back”, this was a “relapse”, that the patient “needed” effexor, and maybe, the pills should be doubled or tripled.
      And yes, Someone Else, psychiatrists are “quacks” who regularly poison, defame, injure, and kill people for profit and simply bc they are useless, stupid, arrogant, and malevolent. The stories about Luise, Garth Daniels, and the 70 year old shocked to DEATH because she was a “danger to herself” show us the quality of the “help” they provide. Why aren’t these lunatic in prison where they belong?

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      • I wish they were being sent to prison, truth, or at least making proper amends to the patients they’ve harmed. If for no other reason, than because I do believe in karma, or justice from the Creator, albeit in His own time. However, I used to believe all could be saved, until psychiatrists, and their unrepentant child abuser and child murderer friends, taught me some are not likely worthy.

        And the antidepressants are nasty, I was given one, under the guise of a “safe smoking cessation med.” I was abruptly taken off it after a month or two, since it didn’t work for smoking cessation. The common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome were what resulted in my DSM-IV-TR “bipolar” misdiagnosis, and I’ve had continuing “brain zaps” for the past 16 years.

        At least I finally found a doctor who had heard of “brain zaps,” was capable of comprehending my medical research, understood the common adverse effects of antidepressants, and the resulting anticholinergic toxidrome poisonings, weren’t actually “bipolar.” But this took a ton of medical research on my part, eleven years, and resulted in nothing but malpractice on me, and my entire family during that entire period. Resulting in my husband’s untimely death at the age of 46, and my children not being properly immunized until they were 17 and 14.

        I’m quite certain even the psychiatrists have malpractice insurance for a reason, and should be utilizing it, for what it was intended, if any of them ever want forgiveness from anyone, including God. Although, I know many don’t believe in God, so apparently don’t give a flying f-ck, about their ongoing crimes against humanity.

        But I do hope any psychiatrists or psychologists who do believe in common decency, karma or God, will rethink the wisdom of trusting in, and continuing to utilize, a scientifically invalid and NIMH defunded “bible” of stigmatizations, over an inaccurate, but wisdom filled, Holy Bible.

        The realities of life, and the workings of the mind and brain, are still a mystery to all of humanity. It’s a shame the psychiatric professions felt it was their right to lie to all of humanity again, and claim they have all the answers regarding the brain and mind and reality, rather than confessing to the reality that much is still unknown.

        But doing such would, at this point, morally require them to utilize their malpractice insurance for what it was intended, to pay for their past several decades worth of, and current, lies and crimes against humanity. Which they’ve made it quite clear they have no intention of doing.

        All unrepentant psychiatric professionals who refuse to utilize their malpractice insurance for what it was intended at this point, however, are now gambling their souls on their belief there is no such thing as a just and good Creator, IMHO. Which is their right, in a society with freedom of religion as a right. But is a “bible” of unscientifically proven stigmatizations the rule of the land, or is the belief “all people are created equal,” and all should treat others as they’d like to be treated, the rule of this land? And which theology benefits the majority?

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