No Free Lunch

Posted on September 24, 2005. Filed under: Health |

You’ll notice I have added some new links in the sidebar.

I am always interested in what the drug companies are up to, given that those of us who work in health are always being inundated with gifts and free lunches during “education sessions” or “inservice training sessions” by drug reps who, not surprisingly, just want to influence your thinking on their particular product. There has been only one drug rep that I know who is less inclined to push than to say “here it is, this is what it does, take it or leave it”. Not surprisingly also, she has been moved to another area and will be undergoing further company training.

Imagine my delight then, when I found, via PharmaGossip a link to another site (US based No Free Lunch) which is actively discouraging doctors from succumbing to the temptation to clean up on the gifts and free samples.

In my work capacity, for the last two years I have been organising and attending meetings with various GP surgeries around town, the purpose of which is the break down the barriers in terms of communication and sharing the care of our mutual clients, trying to get clinicians and GPs together for this has not been an easy task. My supervisor thought we should do lunch. In another area, the service paid for the lunch. Mine refused. So my supervisor decided that drug rep supplied lunch was necessary, because she did not trust the GPs to want to meet with us without us providing some kind of carrot to get us in the door.

20 or so meetings and 12 months later, I had had enough. These drug reps simply take over the meeting, touting their wares, leaving hardly any time for client discussion. Some even refused to leave when they were finished their “talk” which meant that no clients could be discussed in any case, because of confidentiality issues.

So I decided to drop the lunches and see what would happen. By and large, GPs were quite happy to see us in any case. Some surgeries said “No problem at all… in fact, how about we feed you instead!”. Of course there were some who had provided lunch for us from the outset. The few who became reluctant, and began stalling on when we could visit, have been shown for the “knife and fork brigade” that they are, and so I know there will be no joy in trying to link with them in any case. I am still waiting calls from some of them “Ohh.. we’ll get back to you…” after I had notified them of my reluctance to involve drug reps and suggesting we all bring our own lunch.

In the end, I am left with a small group of surgeries who are interested in Mental Health and who will continue to meet with us, to the benefit of our mutual clients.

I think its a good result.


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