New York Times Article: A Drug Maker’s Playbook Reveals a Marketing Strategy

The following article by the New York Times highlights one of the problems in medicine today that limits physicians from being open to alternative approaches to healing mental illness. With pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to laud their products, and doctors being seduced to believe that they are “experts” rather than “customers,” it is difficult for doctors to remain unbiased in their judgment of treatment efficacy.


As a psychiatrist, my last encounter with a drug representative occurred after he dropped by unannounced in my waiting room with lunch and a salad, along with other office supplies marked with the company logo. When I gently said to the young man that I cannot develop a relationship with him that would bias my judgment of the medication he is promoting, he blushed a bright red. I felt bad about embarrassing him, but it was clear that the drug company was not sending me a handsome young male salesrep instead of a beautiful young female salesrep by accident.


I feel the same way about nutraceutical (nutritional supplements sold only to practitioners) companies and their rising practice of sending their drug reps to holistic doctors’ offices. I do not want a sales pitch from either a drug company or a supplement company.


If I want information, I will go to a conference where the lecturers are not paid by a company to lecture. It’s pure naivete to believe that one can obtain any unbiased information on a product from a company sales rep.


Alice W. Lee-Bloem, M.D., ABIHM

A Drug Maker’s Playbook Reveals a Marketing Strategy


Published: September 1, 2009

The pharmaceutical industry has developed thousands of medicines that have saved millions of lives, but it has also used its marketing muscle to successfully peddle expensive pills that are no more effective than older drugs sold at a fraction of the cost.

No drug better demonstrates the industry’s salesmanship than Lexapro, an antidepressant sold by Forest Laboratories. And a document quietly made public recently by the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging demonstrates just how Forest managed to turn a medicinal afterthought into a best seller.

The document, ‘Lexapro Fiscal 2004 Marketing Plan,’ is an outline of the many steps Forest used to make Lexapro a success. Because of concerns from Forest, the Senate committee released only 88 pages of the document, which may have originally run longer than 270 pages. ‘Confidential’ is stamped on every page.

But those 88 pages make clear that one of the principal means by which Forest hoped to persuade psychiatrists, primary care doctors and other medical specialists to prescribe Lexapro was by finding many ways to put money into doctors’ pockets and food into their mouths. Continue reading New York Times Article: A Drug Maker’s Playbook Reveals a Marketing Strategy