Sunday, September 14, 2008
Among medical students today, the most fashionable accessory is designed by neither Prada nor Fendi. It is that canvas tote thing, similar to the one your grandma brings to the supermarket. Except this one features duct tape plastered over some undecipherable slogan, that once said "Plavix" or "Celebrex." On the duct tape is often written "Pharm Rx." By wearing this bag, the medical student signals to the world that, despite being a future member of a stuffy aristocratic profession, the student is radical, independent, and averse to shilling for Big Pharma.
The problem is, by covering up the name of the pharmaceutical company, the future doctor does his patients and colleagues a disservice. The purpose of "Pharm Free" campaigns is to insure that the physician's recommendations are never inappropriately influenced by bribery, which could harm the unsuspecting patient. However, when a company showers a doctor with gifts, and he discloses this fact to those around him, he at least allows them to form their own opinions about the reliability of the doctor's subsequent professional recommendations. By accepting perks, but refusing to give up the names of his bank-rollers, and by concealing their names on his complementary tote bag, the doc's actions ought to be considered, in the minds of Pharm-Freers, as plain old corruption.