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.