Doctors at the Madras Medical Group had grown wary of the pharmaceutical sales pitch. They were thinking of banning drug reps from their practice, but worried their low-income patients would lose access to the free samples the drug reps left behind.
That changed when a rep arrived with a gourmet meal over which he planned to educate the doctors about the benefits of his company’s latest brand-name drug. “We had this really lavish meal, butter with all the fancy curlicues — it was really something,” Dr. Doug Lieuallen recalls.
As they eyed the creamy yellow rosettes and the elaborate spread on the table for the six providers and two dozen staff members, it became clear the drug company had spent a tidy sum to butter them up.
“That,” he said, “sort of pushed us over the edge.”