Legal/ Ethical Issues in Business (Add (Add (Add Date) Legal/ Ethical Issues in Business Introduction Medical sales representatives often face criticism on the grounds of morality and ethics. These days, on any given day, medical representatives offer so many dollars and a car trunk full of promotional gadgets to get a prospect’s time, and to make him prescribe the medicine to a number of patients…
However, what happens in practice is that medical companies are ready to give, and doctors are equally ready to receive. The gifts often include visits and pleasure trips to dream destinations, a few dollars as honoraria, lunches and dinners in sunny and warm destinations, and pens and other gadgets emblazoned with the name of the sponsor. It seems that the guidelines from governments and other regulatory bodies are seriously deficient in the matter of drug promotion. A look into the Pharmaceutical Marketing Scene in the US According to statistics (cited in Barfett, Lanting, Lee, Lee, M., Victor & Simkhovitch, 2004), in the United States, an amount of nearly $ 21 million was spent in the year 2002 on marketing by pharmaceutical companies. When this amount is broken down, it is seen that 56% of the amount was spent on providing free samples, and 25% was accepted by physicians in the form of honoraria and gifts. As Reilly (2009) points out, there are nearly 92000 pharmaceutical sales representatives in the United States; that means, there is one pharmaceutical sales representative for every 7.9 doctors. This huge number of representatives has become a burden in the medical fraternity. The doctors are forced to spend a lot of time on the representatives. In a recent development, a person filed a law suit against the Blackstone Medical alleging that the company engaged in such illegal practices as offering monthly payments, payments to development projects, entertainment expenses, and so on and on (“Outpatient Surgery”, 2011). Why Physicians Love Drug Samples A study by Joseph & Mantrala (n.d) looks into the attitude of physicians towards the prescription drug promotion. It is found that physicians favor sampling for two apparent reasons. First of all, most of the time, the new representatives, their explanations, and their glossy pamphlets are the primary source of education for physicians to know about new drugs. So, sampling is often the only way for physicians to see how new drugs work in certain conditions. In addition, it also allows the physicians to observe the negative effects of old drugs for new patients and give fine-tuning of dosage before the full prescription is purchased by the patient. Thus, it gives a relatively safer way to check if the drug suits the patient’s idiosyncratic features. Another benefit is the chance to satisfy the price-sensitive patients, thus playing a public relations purpose. However, the physicians abhor the samples for certain basic reasons like the time and effort required to receive samples. It requires sending signed return receipts, and also requires record keeping and security. The Impact of Drug Samples on Prescription Patterns The study by Chew, O’Young, Hazlet, Bradley, Maynard & Lessler (2000) looked into the impact of the presence of samples on the prescription patterns of 131 physicians under three essential scenarios. The scenarios were: an insured woman with uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection, an uninsured man with essential moderate hypertension, and an uninsured woman with a new onset of depression. In the study, it was found that in all the scenarios, a considerable proportion of the physicians gave up their preferred drug choice and prescribed an available sample. The ...
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