The University Record, October 16, 2000

Letters

The University Record welcomes letters from members of the University community. Those on topics of broad University interest will be given preference for publication. Letters should be no more than 500 words in length and must be signed. The editorial staff reserves the right to reject any letter and to edit and/or condense letters for publication. The editorial staff also may limit the number of weeks letters may be published on an issue, and the number of times any one person’s viewpoint on a single issue will be published. Letters may appear in small type. Organizations submitting material must include the name and address of an appropriate officer. Letters must be received by noon Wednesday to receive consideration for publication in the next issue.


Lower drug costs by eliminating ‘free lunches’

In addition to the ways mentioned in the article about how “You can help keep drug costs down,” I’d like to suggest another one: asking the drug companies to stop spending money on physicians and other medical staff in the form of “free lunches,” conferences in expensive hotels for the whole family, hundreds of little gadgets, and many others I’m sure I don’t know about. The money spent paying the pharmaceutical representatives to do their “presentations” in medical centers, the lunches and the gifts they bring to these events and the millions spent on TV commercials are contributing to the drug costs, and the University should make sure that its employees are aware of this fact. A drug should be considered effective and prescribed as such because it does what it is supposed to do, not because the physician received nicer gifts from one company than from the other. As an educational institution, the University shouldn’t allow this kind of unethical transaction between pharmaceutical companies and the medical staff on its campus. When I brought up this issue in the past I was told that pharmaceutical representatives are not allowed on campus anymore and that there might be some “loopholes.” Indeed, they are large enough to let a pharmaceutical representative go through. I know people who refuse to go to the “free” lunches because they think it is unethical, but many seem to see no connection between high drug prices and the expenses made on their behalf. I think it is the University’s task to make sure that its employees understand it and act against it.

Ruxandra-Ana Iacob, research associate II, Institute for Social Research, and former Medical Center employee