1. says

    Im with Charlie Brown on this one ;)

    It actually kinda reminds me of a Mercedes Benz billboard from back in the day. It showed a spunky cheery girl with a Mercedes sports coupe of some type and the caption said “Fire your thereapist.”

    Youd be surprised how far a few toys and indulgences can go towards improving your mental health. After all, isnt it usually the lack of toys and indulgences that get one so depressed in the first place?

    I mean, for example, money might not make one happy, but isnt it the #1 reason for depression when people dont have it?

  2. says

    I love playing games with the pharma-shills whenever I’m at the doctor:

    1) Bug them for free pens. They almost ALWAYS have some.

    2) Sing them improvised songs about vultures. See if you can work in a pun about “carrion luggage” to reference their rolling travel bags. Bonus points for arm-flapping and simulated flying.

  3. Kagehi says

    At a guess… There is a tendency for certain companies to send reps to doctors to get them to take “samples” of various drugs the companies produce. This is presumably to get the doctors to use what the company thinks is a better product, but unfortunately, it can also mean that some doctors look at the side effect list, conclude that a medication might be helpful with something for which it has never been tested, procude to test it on themselves or a patient, then *without* proper double blind testing, presume that the percieved improvement is a real one, so start handing the stuff out to every patient with that condition.

    Disturbing thing is, I recently talked to a doctor to whom I casually mentioned this problem, and his idiot response was, “Yeah, I am aware of that, which is why I am real careful. This stuff I just bought I use myself and it works.” Umm… You’re missing the fracking point sir! Your own “opinion” about if something works based on a desire for it to do so is *not* a valid criteria for making medical determinations!

    Well, that is what I wanted to tell the guy, but decided it was best to be diplomatic since he might have gotten annoyed and told my boss I was being nasty or something. Besides, sometimes they are right. It just takes “real” clinical tests to determine that.

  4. says

    “Pharma shill” is not a term for a pharma sales person, but is a derogatory term used by woo-purveyors and various deniers (vaccines, HIV/AIDS) as an ad hominem attack on anyone who questions their woo or denial. The implication is that anyone who thinks that vaccines are more beneficial than harmful (or don’t cause autism, etc.) is in the pay of the pharmaceutical companies and is therefore “shilling” for the companies.

  5. says

    It’s also a pretty good term for these over-stuffed bozos dropping hundreds of a dollars a day on office lunches for medical clinics, give away a wide variety of trinkets emblazoned with company logos; all for the purpose of getting physicians to get on board with a certain pill. Ask someone who works in a doctor’s office to tell you about it sometime– you’ll quickly get an idea why the price of medication is so crazy.

  6. Robert says

    So a pharma-shill is someone who gets money from Pharmacuetical companies, or someone who thinks that any one who defends the companies is on the company payroll?

  7. anonymous says

    Wait a minute … that cartoon makes no sense. In the second panel Charlie Brown turns to his left and is shocked by what he sees. Then he runs in the direction that he was facing in the first panel in order to get to the Pharm.

  8. Christian Burnham says

    Antidepressants for 5 cents? Those were the days- when you could still buy lithium with your pocket money and have enough left over to get a comic book.

    Fortunately, the Texas department of corrections still pays for my anti-psychotic medication.

  9. stogoe says

    #8: No, a ‘pharma shill’ is a paid position within a pharmaceutical company to bribe or coerce doctors into using their company’s product to the exclusion of generics or the competitor,


    Anyone who shows skepticism at the wacky claims of ‘alternative’ practitioners or anti-vaxers (if you disagree with the woo, you must be bought by Big Pharma).

  10. patrick says

    Stogoe is right. The existance of woo-purveyors doesn’t make pharmaceutical reps any more ethical.

  11. says

    My doc uses the samples to help out patients who have difficulty affording (or getting, due to availability issues) their medications. Great guy.

  12. says

    A pharma shrill is a mythical character that inhabits the internet. The legends say these creatures are paid by unnamed pharmacy companies to say bad things about alternative medicine in order to encourage people to use prescription drugs. It is a matter of some controversy why they critic alternative medicine but not surgery, exercise, healthy diets other non-drug therapies other than alternative medicine.

  13. Steve_C says

    Because there’s no evidence that “alernative” medicines work any better than placebos.

    But go right ahead and sleep with crystals under your pillow.

  14. says

    Let the buyer beware!

    At least with foodstuffs, people KNOW that eating tons of BigMacs is bad for them. However, they just dont care because it tastes good.

    Tobacco smokers KNOW that tobacco is bad for them, but they dont care cause the smokes feel good. If they are addicted, then sure its harder to quit, but peple that REALLY want to quit can still make it through the cravings.

    I think that consumers should be careful of what they are putting their money in to. For example, is it really McDonalds fault that fat people are fat, or is it the fault of the obese guy who cant excercise a little bit of long term judgement and determination and only chooses to eat junk?

    Pharmaceutical companies let you know what their product does. You just gotta get off your lazy ass and read the fine print: “This is addictive. This product causes a bunch of side effects. Etc.”

  15. Cpl. Chron says

    Way, way OT but digby’s got neocon takes on evolution. I scrolled down and didn’t see anything here about it so maybe you haven’t seen it yet. It’s fookin’ hilarious in a scary, omg people actually listen to these folks kind of way. Tucker’s is my fav, how does he even manage to breathe let alone opine for cash. (no link ’cause I suck at technology)

  16. Robert says

    So “pharma-shill” is an ad-hominem attack that works by playing on people’s (sometimes valid) beliefs about the evil of big pharmaceutical companies in order to get them to disbelieve otherwise valid criticisms of whatever woo they are purveying?

  17. kmarissa says

    at #9:

    I believe the look of shock is in response to something that Lucy has just told him.

  18. JohnnieCanuck says

    You’ve got it, Robert. If I’m selling desperate people a cure for autism, then any doctor or informed lay person who points out that my chelation compound is dangerous, or it won’t remove mercury from the body, or thimerosol doesn’t break down into elemental mercury in the body, or mercury is not a cause of autism, then…

    That person is a pharma shill and is either part of a conspiracy, or deceived by the conspirators.

    Be careful of what you say. I have good reason to believe this blog is monitored by Them. People have disappeared, you know.

  19. llewelly says

    Johnnie! You Fool! You’ve gone too far!
    Soon the Black Helicopters will be winging their way to your peaceful
    home. Their mechanical claws will reach into your room through your
    walls, grasp you, and carry off to the Dark Servants of Pharma, where
    you will be drugged, mind-wiped, and re-indoctrinated, only to be
    returned, unsuspecting, to your bed.

  20. craig says

    Big Pharma sends reps, typically attractive young women, into doctors offices plying them with all kinds of swag, to get them to prescribe their latest $200-a-month hypertension medication rather than the safer and more effective $6 diuretic.

    They are so pervasive that several of the doctor’s offices I’ve gone to have had to establish strict rules to deal with aggressive reps – “ABSOLUTELY NO REPS BEYOND THIS POINT” signs to stop them from invading the patients’ space, limiting them to 2 hours on a specific day once a week, etc.

    Recognizing the fact that these creatures exist and that ALL multi-billion dollar corporations tend to do unethical things in their quest to become multi-trillion dollar corporations does NOT automatically make a person a crystal-rubbing new age nutcase.

  21. y'ello says

    at #6

    On this issue I agree with the HIV/AIDS dissidents that pharamacological representatives and conferences geared towards providing free samples and all expense paid trips for MDs and Therapists aren’t exactly acting in the most selfless manner for the needy patients.

    I also agree that the FDA has essentially folded with regards to extensive,lengthy and most importantly, independant testing of new medications as a tragic side effect of the ACT-UP activism.The list of horrors
    is long, with Vioxx,acne medications and several heart drugs yanked for their side effects which didn’t become
    evident until long after usage.

    at # 20, I consistently hear these claims of “alternatives”
    being dangerous and life-killing while almost half of the annual iatrogenic deaths in the U.S. alone
    (conservative estimate, 106,000) are due to properly prescribed mainstream medication.

    I’ve tried to find a comparable rouster of deaths due to alternative medicines.Fustrately, it is not a regulated field, so it apparently depends more on anecedotal cases rather that compiled death statistics.If you can find one for me, I’d be much obliged.

    My favourite moments of zen with regards to modern medicine
    must be whenever Isreali doctors go on strike.

    Every time the Isreali doctors strike, the average death rates drop between 15% to as much as 50% percent(1973).

  22. andyo says

    Or worse, he could have put on your file that you’re “difficult”.

    An obscure Seinfeld reference in a popular science blog? Who’d have thunk?

    Anyway, I also do it all the time in another forum. It’s no fun when no one picks it up. Seinfeld, Douglas Adams, Woody Allen…

    By the way, about Douglas Adams. I recently discovered him. What a genius for someone with such an uncomplicated name!

    About the subject at hand… Doctors don’t need all these stupid medicines, they only need to buy a machine that goes PING!

  23. Keanus says

    What surprised me this morning is that Liu, in the style of the real drug companies, would have been charging not ¢5 but $5. I’m sure he drug peddlers all sneered in unison at Liu this morning.

    As for pharma shills, which I take to mean the drug company detail men/women who harass doctors in their offices in the hopes of persuading them to prescribe more patented drugs, one should look at what the Mercks, Pfizers and Lillys of the world incur for sales costs. Take a look at an annual report, where SGA often tops 20% of gross sales. Having run a business where that seldom topped 5%, their sales costs are gouging pure and simple IMHO. It’s a world in which Liu, peddling pills for ¢5, would never succeed.

  24. TAW says

    off topic, but this thing’s just hilarious.

    Noah’s ark- the true story. (that’s what it SHOULD have been titled anyway)

  25. says

    I do not understand, wasn´t the introduction of antipsychotic drugs a great leap forward in the treatment of mental diseases? AFAIK, the only option before them was the mental asylum. I understand Charlie Brown that he prefers taking a pill to talking futively to some psycho shill.

  26. stogoe says

    Don’t forget about Charlie Brown’s recurring experiences of torment and humiliation at the hands of Lucy – if I was Charlie Brown and could get equivalent treatment at equivalent cost from someone other than Lucy I’d jump at the chance.

  27. Dennis says

    As overprescribed and questionably effective as anti-depressants are, if I were having problems I’d be more likely to try the pills than talk therapy. So many therapists I’ve encountered are so full of so much shit… at least a pill might get me a placebo effect.

  28. Babs says

    As someone who has taken anti-depressants for more than 7 years, I must say that they have more than a placebo effect on me. Would I like to have to take them for the rest of my life? No, but until I have an alternative, I will stay on them. My life before them was consistently agonizing. I would swing from being unable to stop crying to being a downright angry bitch to everyone and anyone that crossed my path. Not a good way to go through life. I tried talk therapy, but because my mind had such a warped view of life it didn’t do much good. Once I was on the drugs and able to view things more objectively I was able to make rational decisions and incorporate some of the talk therapy.

    I do agree that they are wholly over-prescribed by physicians and that it isn’t a “magic bullet” by any stretch of the imagination. It took me a while to find the right drug to make me feel better. In instances where patients are not getting relief, it is possible the right drug hasn’t been found yet.

    Unfortunately, the physicians that are writing these scripts at the drop of the hat have created this perception that if you feel bad for any reason a pill will cure it. This makes society in general more cynical towards people that are suffering from mental illness and finding relief in these drugs.

  29. Chuck says

    I’m seeing a very understandable kind of angst on play here. On the one hand, as members of the left, it is natural to be suspicious of profit-driven enterprises like pharmaceutical companies; especially since the certain products of pharmaceutical companies seem to be essential for certain people to go on living, so it seems immoral to profit from it. On the other hand, as defenders of reason and science, it is impossible to buy into the stupid conspiracy memes all over the internet and widespread among the public. It is also natural, as scientists, to distrust quacks and purveyors of alternative medicine. Hence the two definitions of pharma shill. What is a member of the rational, scientific left to do?

    Well, my solution is to have government-subsidized R&D for drug development and price controls on pharmaceuticals, but I could be wrong. It does seem grotesque to do science for profit and not for the benefit of all, but at the same time the money has to come from somewhere (the process of testing a drug’s efficacy and safety and bringing a compound to market costs about $800 and takes 8-12 years – and most lead compounds will fail in clinical trials or in preclinical toxicology screens).

  30. jackd says

    Excellent article on pharmaceutical reps from Atlantic Monthly.

    The most interesting (or scariest) tidbit is that doctors honestly believe that getting gifts and favors from drug reps doesn’t influence the way they prescribe. But the numbers say otherwise.