Within a two-week period, two sales representatives from competing pharmace
utical companies visited the office of an orthopaedic group practice. One r
epresentative was elated that the group had been steadily prescribing his c
ompany's new arthritis medication. The physicians assumed that the represen
tative was speaking about the number of sample packs used by their office.
Several days later, a competing drug representative visited the office and
complained that several physicians in the group were "not thinking of my co
mpany's medication first." The physicians were perplexed and asked him how
he had come by that information. After multiple attempts at evading the que
stion, the representative explained that pharmaceutical companies pay the d
rugstores for such data. Although unwilling to disclose the details of the
arrangement, he did inform the physicians that the pharmaceutical companies
know exactly which physicians are writing which prescriptions, He assured
the physicians that patients' names are not disclosed. The physicians spoke
to several pharmacists and other pharmaceutical representatives, who confi
rmed the practice.