Pharma Influence in Medicine
They influence politics, policy, sponsor clinical trials, professional guidelines, and affect prescribing practices.
Marketing is disguised as medical “education” using WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression), Medscape (https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/286342-treatment), Spotlyte (https://practicaldermatology.com/news/allergan-launches-spotlyte), etc. and prescribing physicians are rewarded at $350/hour (GPss) and $750/hour (specialists).
There are pharma paid lobbyists and medical “education” companies like:
Agence Unik – https://www.agenceunik.ca/
Clinical drug trial companies like IQVIA – https://www.iqvia.com/
QR discount codes – https://jobs.iqvia.com/job_location/halifax/manager-patient-support-services/24443/48451616320/393630
Free samples, cash back VISA cards – https://www.merzaesthetics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/xperienceProgramTermsAndConditions.pdf
Points programs – https://www.brilliantdistinctions.ca/
The prescribing physicians , pharmacists, and nurse practitioners are enticed with glossy brochures, free samples, lunches, gifts, and incentives to prescribe. Clinical trials are paid at the completion of the trial duration. Physicians collect the “standard honorariums” and travel expenses, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hpb20141002.272302/ but these payments are not transparent in Canada.
There are a number of ethical, immoral and huge conflicts of interest, and more regulation on the influence of the pharma industry in medicine is required. https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/pharmaceutical-drug-company-doctor-physician-payment-disclosure-transparency-1.4169888
Will this happen? Nope!
Do you remember when cigarettes were “throat soothing” and promoted by ENT surgeons? Oxy Contin was “non addictive” and 30 day sample packs were handed out by GP’s. Then we had the “chemical Imbalance” of Paxil and samples, and “dopamine balancing” Abilify and QR codes. What about “preventative” Botox?
So if we can’t stop the aggressive marketing (90% of pharma budgets are spent on marketing and less than 10% on research and design of a drug) can we focus on campaigns that empower young people like the Dove Self Esteem Project?
The best mental health support is not a quick prescription pad for an antidepressant, an anxiolytic, a stimulant or an antipsychotic drug (https://www.babylonhealth.com/ca) but to take the time and discuss:
1) Quit smoking.
2) Quit cannabis and vaping and recreational drugs.
3) Quit ultra-highly processed foods like the O groups (Oreo, Doritos, Cheetos, Vodka) https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/unfit-to-serve-062322-508.pdf.
4) Did you know distilled spirits like whisky, gin, rum and vodka are also part of the ultra-processed class?
5) What may surprise the public is that fake meat is also a highly processed food.
6) Get daily fresh air, walking and reconnect with nature.
7) Importance of sleep routines (sleep is medicine).
8) Social media detox (set timers, limit tech in the evenings) https://declutterthemind.com/blog/social-media-detox/.
9) Spend time with good friends and make time for family “kitchen table” meetings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNLiUEnPMaw .
Peer to peer support and shared lived experience is also invaluable for people living with a chronic illness like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s colitis etc.