Sex, drugs and pharmacology

The eDrugSearch blog has noted that Mia Heaston, the current Miss Illinois and one of the 2007 Miss USA hopefuls, is also a pharmaceutical industry representative.

If this link seems a bit too tenuous to be newsworthy, the blog also identifies two of last year’s Miss USA contestants who were drug reps and identified no less than 16 professional cheerleaders who also work as reps for the pharmaceutical industry.

If you’ve ever met a drug rep, you’ll know they tend to be charming, aesthetically pleasing young people with free gifts and selected scientific publications to hand, which of course, suggest that the company’s medication is the best treatment for any number of mental illnesses or assorted disorders.

In a classic 1983 paper Webster and Driskell reported that attractive people are generally thought to be more intelligent and more competent, including when judged on their likely performance on tasks completely unrelated to good looks, such as ‘ability to pilot a plane’.

The use and perceived credibility of information provided by drug reps to doctors has been found to correlate with prescribing.

In other words, even apart from the sex appeal, attractive drug reps are likely to make the marketing information seem more convincing, which in turn leads leads to more doctors using the drugs.

So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest industries on the planet is selectively recruiting some of the most attractive people to promote both their product and their product-supporting research.

No Free Lunch has an extensive list of peer-reviewed research on drug marketing that is an essential antidote and will help you judge their information more effectively.

Link to eDrugSearch blog on Miss USA drug reps (via Furious Seasons).
Link to eDrugSearch blog on cheerleader drug reps.
Link to first page of classic Webster and Driskell paper.

4 thoughts on “Sex, drugs and pharmacology”

  1. How can this possibly be surprising though? If you look at the history of the industry, you can clearly see a sales-at-any-cost(to the end user) approach. Witness the anti-allergy drug that, when taken with grapefruit juice could be fatal. Hello – most of us do drugs at brekfast (the legal kind that is) and many of us do juice and a significant proportion do grapefruit.
    Mind… that’s an issue but I won’t go there.
    Still… hardly surprising but another example why they are “evil” (I’m evil too, but not in the same way *smiles*)

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