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“The researcher has concluded the overall results and found that both doctors and pharmaceutical companies are equally responsible for unethical drug promotion practices in Pakistan. But most important and interesting findings are, basically pharmaceutical companies are responsible for initiating these unethical drug practices in Pakistan but now in continuation of these practices the doctor’s community is actually responsible for these unethical drug promotion practices in Pakistan. Now the doctors have become demanding and pharmaceutical companies are responsible to fulfill their ethical and unethical demands. Now, this has become an acceptable norm of the pharmaceutical industry and doctors community for the promotion of drugs in unethical ways. The monetary rewards, local and foreign visits in the name of scientific activities offered by the pharmaceutical companies for unethical promotion of the drugs are extensively used as a tool of promotion of their drugs. The entire above conclusion is evident from the four hypotheses that were tested….”
On the subject of tools of unethical promotion tools, the findings are here.
“The Qualitative analysis shows that foreign visits with a mean of 4.59 are more in demand and local visits being the second. The reasons for high preferences for local visits and foreign visits are that pharmaceutical industry could justify these expenses by linking it with the conference.
The above qualitative analysis clearly demonstrated that the foreign visits are the most common practice, which is being used by the pharmaceutical industry in order to please and oblige the doctors. Whereas, the local visits are the second one tool to oblige the doctors. Foreign and local visits are the most demanding and practicing by the pharmaceutical industry to please or to oblige doctors for unethical marketing practice. Initially, the multinational companies in the name of international conferences have started foreign visits and they selected consultants from the main cities of the Country. They were not only providing boarding, lodging, air tickets and registration but also arrange sight seeing as well. After entrance of national companies the quantum of foreign and local visits have increased substantially. Local companies have also offered these visits to family physicians and junior doctors as well. Mainly, national and multinational companies are linking these local and foreign tours with national and international conferences. Local companies have forwarded one step ahead and they started Continuing Medical Education (CMEs) and in the name of CMEs these national companies arrange international tours for doctors and their families. In those international tours these companies are providing all sort of recreational activities to the doctors and families that is why the international tours are in more demand by the doctors community”.
On the subject of stopping the Unethical Practices:
“The Qualitative analysis shows that the majority of the respondents’ i.e. doctors, pharmaceutical personnel, hospitals, pharmacies, govt. officials and Patients strongly disagree about the opinion that the unethical drug promotion practices cannot be stopped now. Majority of respondents’ agreed upon that these unethical practices could still be stopped. Above qualitative analysis shows that these unethical practices could be stopped, but there is a big question how? Who will take the responsibility to stop these practices? The pharmaceutical companies? These are busy in making huge profits from these practices. The doctors’ community? They are getting unmatched and enormous benefits from the pharmaceutical companies. Government officials are taking bribery in order to support all these unethical practices. Actually, everybody is involved in that unethical practice; therefore, everybody should realize their moral responsibility and take their own part in order to stop these unethical practices from the society. Otherwise, hundreds of thousands laws and regulations could not be stopped these unethical practices.”
Researcher has touched upon another aspect of marketing which was approved in developed countries and later brought to developing countries.
“New technique of marketing is to target the patient consumer rather than the MD, NP, or PA. Since the early 1990’s, drug manufacturing’s companies have been publicity directly to the consumer (DTC) through different media advertisement such as television advertisements, billboards and gifts, mass market publications that attract the patient to ask for specific medicine when they see their healthcare provider (Manning & Masia, 2001). A lot of the advertisements hire popular media personality to pitch their medicines including Olympic Gold Medalist ice skater Dorothy Hamill advertising for the arthritis medication Celebrex and Senator Bob Dole extolling the virtues of Viagra. These advertisements lean to show the medicine as the most excellent, effective and latest for the complaint.”
I would like to compliment the researcher Dr. Rizwan Raheem Ahmed for taking up the current and pertinent topic of Unethical Practices in Pharma Marketing. He has endeavored to remain objective and has validated various findings with data. It is a good study which should be highlighted and forwarded to all concerned quarters.
Pharmaceutical Industry is a business like any other business. It is no more monstrous or no less noble than any other business. In fact, business has no race, no religion, no ethnicity, no morality, no values and no fairness. Business is only for-profit, no matter what it takes. Pharmaceutical business is also for-profit.
Medical practice is also a business where profit is maximized through unnecessary hospital admissions, laboratory tests and invasive procedures. There is nothing wrong with earning profit as long as it does not come through exploiting the customers.
The famous Thalidomide case had been a great tragedy, probably the greatest of all times. Before the drug was banned in 1962, it had already caused thousands of cases of malformed limbs. It was introduced as a sleep-inducing drug and could be termed as an early tranquilizer. It became instantly popular and was consumed by pregnant women also considering it was safe. The exact number of limbless and malformed-limbs babies is not counted but it ran into hundreds of thousands.
The only major novel by a well-known writer focusing Pharma Industry (to my knowledge) is ‘Strong Medicine by Arthur Hailey’. It was published in 1984. The novel indirectly partakes from the Thalidomide case fitting it on to another product. The novel took the position that the company’s chief executive knew about the horrible side effect before launch but suppressed the information in the interest of business.
Arthur Hailey had given an interesting reason for writing this novel. According to him, he had taken retirement from writing. He then suffered from heart problem and got admitted in a hospital. During hospital stay, he was fascinated by the doctors and medicines and wrote this novel.
We conclude this discussion here with the hope that better sense will prevail, and Pharmaceutical products will not continue to be degraded into a commodity which must be sold at all costs without any moral, social or legal responsibility.