Insight, analysis & opinion from Joe Paduda

< Back to Home


Selling Vioxx

Jon Coppelman at Workers’ Comp Insider has a great post on the influence of lunches, meetings, and sales reps (detailers) on prescribing habits of physicians. The quick take – MDs who attended Vioxx lunches prescribed four times more than those who just met with detailers. Oh, they weren’t consuming vioxx at the lunches, just hearing about their wonders.
MDs were also paid $750 – $1000 to present at these educational gastronomic events. The presenters talked about related conditions, indications, etc. Jon notes:
“the participating doctors insisted that they are not flacks for the drug companies — they say that they answer questions at these sessions honestly and candidly. In the example of the migraine headaches above, the lead doctor mentioned the availability of generic medications, in addition to those made by the sponsoring company.”
These are pretty common events – almost a quarter million of these doctor presentations took place last year, compared to under 140,000 detailer sales calls. Figure 237,000 events x $750 honorarium per presenter, that’s $178 million.
While the investment was huge, “The return on investment for the presentations involving a doctor was twice that of the other sessions.”
What does this mean for you?
If you are seeking ways to “counter-detail”, you better have a big budget.

3 thoughts on “Selling Vioxx”

  1. Let’s hear it for anyone interested in “Counter-detail!” No doubt that the 273K x $750=$178M calculation is an outrageously high number. No doubt that Big Pharma has figured this is money well spent…to increase their sales.
    In light of your other posts about stakeholders’ return on health care dollar investment–that $178M/year is a big waste of time, money and brainpower. Which of those stakeholders have got the power to take on these sacred cows?!

  2. actually, the stockholders probably are pretty pleased w the return on investment, as the fees paid to physicians have proven to deliver a significantly better return than the costs of their sales rep programs.
    and it is highly unlikely that a regulatory body will or should prevent a for-profit company from engaging in marketing practices that are legal and ethical.
    such are the issues inherent in a capitalistic society.

  3. Stockholders are one thing–stakeholders are another: employers and patients who have fed the bloated pharmaceutical revenues that allow $178M/year to be spent on this kind of program. I don’t want a regulatory body to intervene; I hope those who pay the price find a way to say, “Enough.”

Comments are closed.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



© Joe Paduda 2024. We encourage links to any material on this page. Fair use excerpts of material written by Joe Paduda may be used with attribution to Joe Paduda, Managed Care Matters.

Note: Some material on this page may be excerpted from other sources. In such cases, copyright is retained by the respective authors of those sources.