jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

ABBOTT: En India "lava" (conciencias) más "banco..."


(Reuters) - Sales representatives for Abbott Laboratories Inc's Indian subsidiaries know what it takes to get a doctor to prescribe the drugs they market: a coffee maker, perhaps, or some cookware, or maybe a vacuum cleaner.

These are among the many gifts for doctors listed in an Abbott sales-strategy guide for the second quarter of 2011, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters. As laid out explicitly in the guide, doctors who pledge to prescribe Abbott's branded drugs, or who've already prescribed certain amounts, can expect some of these items in return.

Consider the guide's entry for Nupod, an Abbott antibiotic generically known as cefpodoxime. It lists a medical textbook, a mosquito repellant and a coffee maker as incentives for doctors.

It also provides a script of the social niceties for clinching the quid pro quo: "Dr presenting you advanced coffee maker from Philips which will make coffee within three minutes … Dr in the box we have made advancement easy for you by giving the ideal usage guidelines of the coffee maker … Dr I look forward for advancement in action i.e. our Nupod brand … Dr can get just 3 Rx per day for Nupod."

Especially in India's poorer areas, says one Abbott rep, "if you give them a small gift, they are happy."

A LARGER PROBLEM

The Abbott guide -- reps say the company produces them regularly -- is evidence of a larger problem in India. In interviews with Reuters, dozens of doctors, drug reps and other healthcare insiders said domestic and multinational drug makers routinely shower Indian doctors with gifts, posh junkets abroad, and cash payments disguised as consultancy or other types of fees.

"Indian CRM," or customer-relationship management, is what industry insiders call this system of inducements. None of the doctors or reps who described their participation in this trade would speak on the record. Under Indian law, doctors are prohibited from accepting cash, gifts or travel from drug companies. Still, enforcement is rare, and drug makers may lavish gifts on doctors with impunity, though their home countries may punish the practice.

In a country where doctors often make less than $10,000 a year, it can be an effective strategy.

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