Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nurses and Secretaries Demand Free Food

An article in the New York Times describes the common practice of drug reps providing free lunches for doctors' offices:
Free lunches occur regularly at doctors’ offices nationwide, where delivery people arrive with lunch for the whole office, ordered and paid for by drug makers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Like the “free” vacation that comes with a time-share pitch attached, the lunches go down along with a pitch from pharmaceutical representatives hoping to bolster prescription sales. The cost of the lunches is ultimately factored in to drug company marketing expenses, working its way into the price of prescription drugs.

“We found that some offices get breakfast and lunch every day,” said Dr. Scott, who calls lunch the “currency” that buys access to doctors’ offices for drug representatives. He also noted that some doctors were hard pressed to meet payrolls and that the lunches provided an added benefit for their employees.
The deliveries often start even before lunchtime, with representatives bringing in pastries and large containers of coffee from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts.
Ms. Slattery-Moschkau, the former pharmaceutical representative, said that nurses and staff members in some offices were quite demanding about lunch.
“It was almost a game, and it was unbelievable the animosity they would show if you did not bring the right kind of food, or if it was the third time they had pizza that week,”

I don't like to do drug company sponsored office lunches more than once a week, though not for any ethical reasons. I just prefer to go off by myself for a while and grab a sandwhich at Subway or McAlister's. The office lunches mainly benefit the office staff.


New Yourka said...

Oh, and don't forget the hospitals. I have had the experience as a Health Unit Coordinator (Unit Secretary) in an ICU. (Long before it was considered a conflict of interest to have sales reps bring in goodies, not to mention pens and sticky pads.) When the organ procurement organization needed to finagle one organ or a full body donation, in order to get past me, and get on my good side to tie up my phones, computer, fax machine, not to mention a large amount of my time...they would head towards me, stop short, whisper among themselves and proceed to my desk, pull out their credit card and say, "Oh, it's so nice to see you today, could you be a doll and order out lunch, dinner, whatever for the staff and myself." Hell yeah! I'd grab the menus from my desk, get orders from 18 or so on shift and call in the order faster than they could get the family's permission to retrieve the organs that would give life to so many others in rougher shape then the poor patient breathing on a vent. Another scenario...while running an Operating Room desk in a large teaching hospital. After the day's surgery schedule was nearly cleared, we'd still have a rolling list of add-on surgeries that just couldn't wait till morning. So, surgeons would come up to my desk to be sweet to me, as I was given the title of "the gate keeper", and beg to be moved up and bump another patient in order to get out of there quicker and go home to their wives and families, or mistresses, instead of waiting for the 10 other "emergencies" that needed to be done. Soon, it became a matter of which surgeon could whip out their platinum card fast enough, and I'd go hash it over with the anesthesiologists, who invariably would be as hungry and ansy to leave for home also. So, dinner for 30 was average and the surgeons wrote it off on their taxes, so we ate BIG. And then there were the residents vying for a shot at a good surgical case to put under their belts. Their measley attempts to get me to dubb them worthy to enter the surgical suites were pathetic. But, as long as they brought some sort of food product that I adored, then they were in the running. Food for thought.

Mother Jones RN said...

You're darn right nurses demand free food from sales reps. I've been a nurse for thirty years, and they always show up just as I'm sitting down after being on my feet all shift. They are so chipper when they ask, "Is this a good time to talk?" I snap, "It isn't if you didn't bring something to eat." As the charge nurse, I've sent reps out for pizza if they come to my unit empty handed. Yeah, I'm tuff. I'm also very hungry when I'm stressed out. Just for your information, nurse also demand pens from drug company reps. We love the Viagra pens.

Daniel Haszard said...

Eli Lilly is a big drug company that puts profits over patients.

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Anonymous said...

Don't you guys (girls) understand how wrong your behavior is? You are disgusting.

PS: Rack, Pharm reps were NEVER welcome in my practice. In the end your patients pay for your lunch.

Anonymous said...

Please. You people act as if you have never worked in any other industry. Every industry I have ever worked in is the same. This includes defense, legal, political and medical. give yourself some credit.. Are you really going to prescribe drugs based on the chicken salad you had for lunch, or what you belive in your professional opinion to be best for the patient?

Oberon said...

This can't work in reality, that is exactly what I suppose.
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