Keep Your Eye On The Prize: Pharmaceutical Companies

Posted on June 23, 2009 by LCT Magazine

DON’T LET THEM KILL DRUG COMPANY TRAVEL: Let’s face it. The U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs. When eyes move away from the AIGs of the world and their “travel abuses,” the next casualty may very well be doctors. How dare they accept a trip from a pharmaceutical company to go to a beautiful resort and learn about the advantages of a new drug while ending the day with a round of golf? The public will be in an uproar. Physicians will stop traveling for fear of losing their practices when their educational trips are unveiled to the public. 
 
So you think it won’t happen? Look at the domino effect AIG caused to the travel industry. Companies that never took government monies stopped incentive travel for fear of the negative perception these trips may have had. Wait until the media unveils the billions of dollars that drug manufacturers spend convincing physicians that their product is the next best thing. Gone are the days when physicians have a cache of pens all emblazoned with Viagra. The tissue boxes branded with Alegra and mint jars that sit on the sign-in counter will be a thing of the past. But these amount to pennies compared to the spending on educational trips. 
 
I have worked many pharm groups in my career, and although there are some elements of a junket in these trips, I believe that the true benefits far outweigh the junket aspects. Consider this: Physicians from around the world who specialize in treating patients with AIDS attend meetings hosted by drug manufacturers to learn of their newest drugs.
 
This gives those physicians yet another opportunity to meet with their colleagues from different parts of the world in a more casual environment to share ideas and observations. When a group of smart people get together, it is amazing what results can occur. But in the eyes of the politicians, it is all about dollars and cents. 
 
As transportation providers for these businesses, we need to watch closely the direction health care reform is going. Elimination of spending on this type of travel can and may be slipped into a bill unnoticed. At the 11th hour in some back room, our industry could be dealt yet another devastating blow. I encourage all of us to read everything that is published on health care reform and watch closely for any comments on incentives and travel.
 
— Linda Moore, East Coast Editor 
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