Drug Reps and Skepticism
Dr. Anonymous thinks he can outwit drug reps at their own game:
Through my medical school training, I've been taught to question all information that is given to me - whether it's a patient's vital signs, or physical exam, or lab work, or whatever.No you haven't, and neither have I. We've been taught to trust our findings and what the patient tells us, and only to go questioning them when something doesn't add up. (Patient says she has a fever but the thermometer reads 98.6. Patient says he doesn't drink but the transaminases are off the wall and his CBC shows macrocytosis. [blood test results strongly suggestive of alcoholism])
Drug reps are taught, trained and conditioned to tell you things in a way that makes perfect sense, using a style of presentation that is almost impossible to argue with. They are professionals, and many of them are damn good at it. It's just hubris to think that you can remain skeptical enough of a rep's pitch to take away only objective information. Look again at those studies you referenced.
As for not having time to keep up on the latest research, neither do I. But I read The Medical Letter religiously, and try to leaf through JAMA before pitching it. Besides, I pride myself on being a "late adopter" of new therapies. Let someone else's patients discover that some new drug makes their penis turn purple and fall off. Baycol; Vioxx; Ketek; the list goes on and on. Thinking of drug reps as a valid source of information -- especially the newest of the new -- can be as dangerous as it is inappropriate.