“Our Daily Meds” begins by illustrating the established drug-company practices that have led to this sorry juncture. There is the rigging of studies, so that to be deemed “effective” a drug need only perform better than a sugar pill. There are the promotional strategies that evade the need for F.D.A. warnings by, say, planting logos for the sexual enhancement drug Viagra and the antidepressant Wellbutrin on Nascar vehicles. There is the co-option of doctors and university researchers by aggressive, payola-dispensing drug company representatives.
Ms. Petersen, who has done much of her digging with the help of obscure but gratifying corporate documents, even finds feedback from doctors about the bribe-style amenities offered by drug company junkets. (“Hotel too cold inside,” one said, in an evaluation of a June 1998 drug company program, adding, “Resort places preferred.” From a different doctor, miffed at the lack of a chauffeur at another event: “Hired car would have been much preferable.”
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