Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor of physiology adn biophysics at Georgetown University, has spent the past six months lecturing med students at Georgetown and neighboring schools on how to resist sales reps' overtures, such as doling out free drug samples to physicians and bringing lunches for office staff.
Often, the audience starts out belligerent, Fugh-Berman says, protesting that they're "too smart to be bought by a slice of pizza." But that changes when "we correct them with the numbers," she says. A doctor who spends just one minute with a sales rep typically ends up prescribing 16% more of that rep's product than he or she was prescribing before. And a four-minute encounter is likely to prompt a 52% jump in prescriptions, says Fugh-Berman. More information on Dr. Fugh-Berman's website at: www.PharmedOut.org
Programs such as hers are rolling out at medical and nursing schools across the country, funded by $21 million in grants from a consortium of state attorneys general. The money came out of a $430 million settlement Pfizer reached with state and federal legislators in 2004.