Monday, February 04, 2013

All That Glitters is Cafepharma



The forums over at Cafepharma are always good for a laugh. There are many to choose from, each one highlighting why the pharmaceutical industry is a place where reps turn into children who argue over the silliest of things and when questioned about ethics, bang the same drum as GlaxoSmithKline's CEO, Andrew Witty - in as much that any problem their company have been embroiled in isn't really a problem anyone should be talking about, it was all part of an era and everything and everyone has changed now.

Reading the forums one would think that it's not just patients and lawyers who don't trust the industry, there are many reps who frequent the forums to sound off and/or bitch about the latest bonus,cutback, layoff or manager.

You reap what you sow guys...and gals.

Cafepharma has a huge list of company boards, I'm going to focus on the big boys, namely, Johnson and Johnson, Eli Lilly and British giant, GlaxoSmithKline.





This post is, in essence, about creating awareness of the kind of person that sells pharmaceutical products. I'm not suggesting for one minute that every single pharmaceutical rep is as bad and ignorant as some of the folk on Cafepharma, in fact I'm inviting any rep, be they present or past, to comment on this post... to defend their corner, so to speak.

There are many visitors to the forums who attack policies, many who link to stories on the internet that highlight the misdemeanors of the aforementioned companies. In the main, these people are lambasted by the majority, told to go away, accused of being a troll or a disgruntled ex-employee.

I'm left wondering if those who lambaste and stick by their company would actually stand by the likes Gary Glitter upon hearing the news of his recent conviction? "Well, I have all his albums and am a fan so if he decides to tour again I'll show him my support." Maybe some of these reps defending the actions of their employers would also keep their 'Jim'll Fix It' medallions encased in their frames above their beds too? - "Now then, now then".

Sounds harsh and unfair to bring Messrs Glitter and Saville into a debate, what they did was truly appalling but is what these pharmaceutical companies did any less appalling?

Google the names Gary Glitter and Jimmy Saville, chances are you'll see nobody defending what they did, not one person suggesting that their acts against children was just part of an era.

Cafepharma is different though. Here we have a bunch of people who have the ability to dismiss any wrong-doing by their company, many of the wrong-doings that has, evidently, involved the same vulnerable population targeted by Glitter and Saville - children.

So, what is it that makes a pharmaceutical rep ignore deplorable acts by his/her employer? I'd love to know exactly what makes a pharma rep tick, surely it's not just about money, is it?

Just to give you some examples of the

Let's start in alphabetical order.

Eli Lilly Forum
Threads - 6,335
Posts - 48,302

Here's an interesting thread entitled, "CYMBALTA-- the new oxycontin?"

The whole topic is, allegedly, started by a pharmacist who doesn't mince his words:


"As a pharmacist that has seen literally 100's of people try to get off Cymbalta after finding it does absolutely nothing for them, I find it interesting that Lilly that "really ethical" drug company choose to put it in the dosage forms it comes in. As a compounding pharmacist I find myself spending more and more time helping physicians come up with a means to taper patients off from this addicting drug. Try stopping it after a few months cold turkey and see what happens. ER visit with all kind of bizarre symptoms.
"Can Lilly make it anymore difficult to taper a dose of product?
"Zyprexa tablets that can't be split is bad enough, but really, how much time did you guys spend trying to come up this mess. A bunch of tiny pellets in a capsule that just have easily been put in in a tablet form that could be broken in halves or quarters to get patients off this addictive drug.
"Lilly used to be a well thought of drug company, but of late all they do is raise prices of existing drugs, make impossible dosing formulations for tapering and keep some guy by the name of Taurel running the show. For what? MONEY. "


Some of the replies agree, the majority don't. Here's just five:

"Yeah, people committing suicide is much better because they can't find anything else that's helped them!"
"There is a reason people don't go to the pharmacist for advice. They went to the doctor, so do as your told. Stop whining about having to compound. There are more Cymbalta indications on the horizon."
"Again, you are a pharmacist; not a MD; not the FDA. You can get arrested in some states for doing your own compounding without proper licensing. Good luck in jail."
"You should stick to be a pill counting asshole! If you want to practice medicine, you should have gone to medical school. Fill what the doctor prescribes and shut the F... UP!'
"Tom Cruise, Is That You? Scientologist are crawling all over these Lilly posts. I guess they are not selling as many machines thanks to Lilly"

Ah, there's that old Scientologist defence. Rather than face the criticism label someone a Scientologist!

As you can see, the responses to the issue regarding withdrawal have been largely ignored. In fact many of the responses target poor spelling.

Whether the original poster was a pharmacist or not shouldn't really be an issue here. If drug reps respond like this in an open forum can you imagine what they are doing behind the closed doors of a doctor or other health care professional?


GlaxoSmithKline
Threads - 9,517
Posts - 111,250

A thread started by someone inquiring about the recent $3 billion dollar fine imposed on Glaxo:

"Can you tell me why GSK is paying out not MILLIONS but BILLIONS in fines for illegal marketing practices? Whistleblowers will be collecting a nice sum for their efforts. Witty said all associated with the past mistakes are no longer with the company."

Just some of the responses:

"....that's water under the bridge, old history, in the past now. Take your little red balloon outside, take a deep breath, and let it go......way up into the clouds. Exhale now and breathe in the fresh air."
"It is very boring and a waste of everyone's time to read about the past....what type of problem do you have? Like has been mentioned...you have definitely been terminated or demoted by us. GSK is a great international pharmaceutical company saving lives everyday. Our vaccines have saved thousands of children worldwide, and continue to do so...not to mention the thousands of adults saved by our pharmaceuticals."
 "Maybe a chip on your shoulder...a disgruntled terminated employee? Evidently very jealous of some salaries and perks ? Many could have retired years ago very wealthy. I am old and retired GSK [40 years], what's your pathetic excuse for playing on this site on a beautiful Saturday...no lady friend perhaps?"

That great river of denial running through most of the thread.


Johnson and Johnson
Threads - 1,971
Posts - 18,692

Here's a thread regarding Johnson & Johnson's reps being targeted by the Department of Justice for off-label promotion of Risperdal and kickbacks made to healthcare professionals:

Thanks for giving the industry another black eye. And let me guess....J&J talks about how important compliance is. How important it is to respect and follow the spirit of the law. All the while you make illegal payments to doctors and LTC pharmacies to gain scripts. 

And here's just a couple of the replies:

"Come On BOYS its called business practices . All the operating companies pay to play."
"Every industry offers a discount, rebate, special pricing or even free goods in exchange for volume of product sold. Shit, even my car insurance company offers me a rebate at the end of the year for using their insurance and keeping a clean driving record."

I find it odd that a rep, who at the end of the day must have had a decent education, could relate a rebate from a car insurance company to payments made to doctors in return for prescribing a harmful drug. See Glitter and Saville analogy.

Now I do know that Cafepharma is a forum for anonymous posters so neither the thread starters or answers can be verified.

What I do find rather odd is the attitude of the majority of current pharmaceutical reps who frequent these boards.

They have been trained well, some would say brainwashed. Lack of empathy runs wild in the forums, which is typical of pharmaceutical companies where suicide is concerned, suicide, I add, that has been induced by many of the drugs the reps have promoted, nae pimped, to healthcare professionals over the years.  This becomes all too apparent when browsing through the General Discussion forum.

Here's how some pharmaceutical reps support the bereaved:


"One one my best friends just gone and I can't believe it. Still in shock had no apparent health problems that we knew of plus he always looked so healthy. He's family is so young and he is gone. I just can't believe it all anyone have to deal with this? He was only 39"
"Go comfort his wife she is ready for you to fuck her brains out. She's in mourning which is the best time to tap that ASS "
"If he dropped at 39 that means he was probably doing something bad for his health. My guess is his wife is a pig also."

Classy, huh?

And here's one pharmaceutical rep chipping in on the subject of suicide:


I've actually wondered about this...what is the cleanest, easiest way to do it and still be sure you go through with it. Can you imagine being the dope who wants to blow their head off and the recoil causes them to only wound themselves? DOH!!!​Also, if you haven't been around guns your whole life, isn't it hard to get one? I've come to the conclusion that stepping in front of a commuter train would be the quickest way to be sure it's done. Sure, it's messy..but would you really care?​And please don't say pills and booze....that's such a chick's way out. Besides, there's a great deal of time where you may lie there in a coma and someone can find you and bring you back. Then you have some explain to do...not fun!​ Anyone ever wonder about chugging antifreeze? I hear pets like the taste...would I? 


Kinda sums this industry up, doesn't it?

This is just my take on what goes on over at the Cafepharma forums. Reps, past and present have the opportunity to reply.

I'm guessing they won't.

All it takes for evil to flourish is good men to stand by and do nothing. - Edmund Burke.

COMING SOON

5 Qualities That Make a Great Pharmaceutical Rep