How Pharmaceutical Companies Are Affecting MedEd

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The tension surrounding pharmaceutical companies and their attempts to infiltrate students’ medical education with marketing strategies is obvious, according to in-TrainingThis tension inherently exists because pharmaceutical companies and physicians both have agendas that operate in conjunction with one another in a never-ending healthcare cycle.

The fact is every sale of a prescription drug is an example of a patient complaint and a physician trying to fix it.

Pharmaceutical companies and device industries have the financial means to develop new medicine and technology, and practicing physicians have the education and authority to diagnose patients who suffer from problems that can be treated by the new medicine and technology. This is an ideal partnership for pharmaceutical companies to pursue. 

While this cycle has led to thousands of successful patient outcomes, it has also bent the integrity of some physicians and created medical mindsets that are ethically questionable. In recent years, healthcare legislation has begun to demand greater transparency of these practices, and public perception of physicians has been wounded as patients become more aware of how often this occurs. 

Pharmaceutical companies have been known to solicit doctors and medical students with gifts – anything from free drug samples to glossy brochures and free dinners and lunches. What is not so known is that industry spends more than $5 billion annually on marketing, which culminates to over $8,000 per physician.

Evidence suggests that the industry integrates itself early. As soon as hopeful medical students begin their first years at the university, industry representatives are developing ways to evade the skepticism toward the industry by using innovative marketing strategies that create friendly and trusting relationships that will eventually foster future business.

While some may disagree, this type of effort spent on marketing and program education directly affects physicians in a negative way. It can often lead to physicians prescribing the latest pharmaceuticals that tend to be more expensive, have no greater advantage than the standard medical prescriptions and are not evidence-based treatments.

This type of behavior is harmful to the social and moral character of students and physicians as medicine is known as a benevolent, compassionate and honest profession, not one of money, politics and handouts.

Riley Schatzle
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