health policy · MS-3

Drug reps

My hospital, like many others, has a pretty strict policy about pharmaceutical representatives.  Back in the day, they used to tempt students as well, with food and drinks and offers of Caribbean cruises for Spring Break. (Taking their cue from the tobacco industry — get ’em while they’re young.)  That changed several years ago, and now drug reps are personae non grata — that’s Latin for “scum of the earth.” One of my attendings threatened to fail a student for using trade names in his presentation, that’s how serious the anti-pharmaceuticals sentiment is around here.

So imagine my surprise when I was accosted by two salesmen the other day.  I was just walking down the hall in my scrubs and white coat with a couple of classmates — easy targets, I’m sure — and these two well-dressed guys came up to us and started on their sales patter. “Wow, you are medical students? You must be soooo smart.”  The insincerity was palpable, and pretty insulting.

They gave us cards to fill out so they could contact us later.  I gave them totally incorrect information, including a fake email address.  (But wtf, I got a LinkedIn invite from one of them yesterday, which is just creepy.)  It did weird me out that they were just wandering aimlessly through the hospital.

In summary: pharmaceuticals = good. The cheerleaders who peddle them = sleazy.

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