Within a two-week period, two sales representatives from
competing pharmaceutical companies visited the office of an orthopaedic
group practice. One representative was elated that the group had
been steadily prescribing his company’s new arthritis medication.
The physicians assumed that the representative was speaking about
the number of sample packs used by their office. Several days later,
a competing drug representative visited the office and complained
that several physicians in the group were "not thinking
of my company’s medication first." The physicians
were perplexed and asked him how he had come by that information.
After multiple attempts at evading the question, the representative
explained that pharmaceutical companies pay the drugstores for such
data. Although unwilling to disclose the details of the arrangement,
he did inform the physicians that the pharmaceutical companies know
exactly which physicians are writing which prescriptions. He assured
the physicians that patients’ names are not disclosed.
The physicians spoke to several pharmacists and other pharmaceutical
representatives, who confirmed the practice.