Another argument made by supporters of the Senate bill is that promotion leads physicians “to prescribe the expensive new drugs that are being marketed to them when a more affordable generic would do,” in the words of one senator. There are three things wrong with this argument. First, manufacturers of generics do not promote those drugs, so it might be difficult for the physician to learn about generics at all. Second, new drugs lead to better health outcomes. They keep people out of the hospital. A 2007 study by business professor Frank Lichtenberg of Columbia University estimated that a prescription for a new drug (5 years from FDA approval) costs an average $18 more than an older one (15 years on the market) but reduces other medical costs, including hospital and office visits, by $129. Finally, by leading consumers to purchase newer drugs, marketing increases investment in innovation and thus makes research more likely.
I’ve never understood the animus toward drug companies. Doctors are busy — drug reps are the only way they find out about some meds, such as the anti-reflux med I’m using.
But apparently, it’s just fine when special interest treat politicians to junkets. But if a drug rep buys a doctor lunch, it’s pure evil.