Thursday, October 15, 2009

No Schering-Plough Ice Cream for You, MA VT MN Doctors!

The pharmaceutical industry doesn't like "sunshine" laws passed in some states that either forbid or put limits on gifts to physicians. In a bid to prevent these laws from passing, the industry made threats to pick up their dollar bills and play in other states; eg, not run clinical trials in Massachusetts or not have booths at medical meetings in Vermont. As if!

Some might call it blackmail, others call it good business practice. Whatever. The ploy didn't work and Massachusetts, Vermont, and Minnesota passed their laws anyway. And drug companies still run clinical trials and have booths at medical meetings in those states, which are renowned for their medical clinics and/or meeting venues (MA: All sorts of great medical centers; MN: Mayo Clinic; Vermont: skiing; say no more, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!).

If you can't live without those states, you'll just have to live with them. But you don't have to take it lying down is how Schering-Plough views it. That company has denied MA, VT, and MN doctors a scoop of ice cream on a cool autumn afternoon in Boston! Dude, that's rad! Here's a sign seen at the ACEP Scientific Assembly in Boston (Hat tip to Whitecoat):

According to Whitecoat, "The legal picture of the day was at an ice cream stand. Sorry you docs in Minnesota, Vermont, or Massachusetts. Either your butts are too fat or there is some legal decision stating that ice cream cones may unduly influence your decision to prescribe medications."

I'm not going to get into how big some docs' butts might be or how silly VT's sunshine law may be, but it is inconceivable that free ice cream at a medical convention in Boston would rile VT prosecutors enough to send undercover VT docs to the meeting in order to catch SCP in the act of giving away free ice cream!

What is silly, however, is SCP putting up this sign in an obvious (to me) attempt to rile VT, MA, and MN physicians, hoping they will go back home and complain to their lawmakers how they were denied a scoop of ice cream!

I'm sure all the MA, MN, and VT docs had a good laugh as they strode in to the exhibit for their just desserts!



  1. Anonymous9:09 AM

    I think it is kind of cute, really.

  2. I work in the industry for a company that recently changed their practice when it comes to 'perks' for physicians. What fascinates me is the sense of anger in the physician community when we refuse to pick up the tabs for things that used to be customary. The company is responding to ethical concerns, but a surprising number of physicians are annoyed.

    Michael S. Thomas

  3. Earlier today, I too, gave in to the temptation to run some goofy home-made photoshopped graphics, as an ode to this story.

    The three graphics are here, here and here, but that last one is the weakest — I was rushing off to another engagement.

    The two posts (at my spot, on it all) are here and here, if you’d rather see the imagery in context. Great stuff! That Freddie “Air” Hassan is never one to go easily (or quietly) into the good night. . . .


  4. Pleased to see sincere critiques of the complex pharmaceutical industry.
    I was a pharmaceutical copywriter on MEDICINE (sic & sick) AVENUE for a number of years. Though I treasure my creative adventures there, as a clinical medical professional as well, I'm often appalled by ongoing marketing ploys that end up harming patients...and by many other debacles devised by the devils of an often profiteering industry.
    Good wishes to your blog,
    Helen Borel,R.N.,Ph.D. You can follow me at
    and you can visit my med/pharm writings at
    and you can have fun reading my
    first medical ad agency fiction by
    googling "BOREL SATIRE:FREUD"


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