This is riveting for a guy like me
The practice of trying to influence doctors with money didn't disappear — it shifted.
Today when a rep like Webb wants to get a doctor to write prescriptions for his drug, there's still one almost foolproof way to get that task accomplished.
To get a doctor to write more prescriptions, Webb asks the doctor to become a speaker.
Here is where it gets really interesting. The doctors think they are doing something good and educational—which is exactly what the drug companies want them to think!
According to Webb and Maher, Clawson's view that speaking is educational is not at all accidental. Drug companies train representatives to approach a narrow set of doctors in a very specific way, using language that deliberately fosters this idea that the doctors who speak are educators, and not just educators, but the smartest of the smart.
For example, every drug representative interviewed for this story used the exact same phrase when approaching a doctor with a pitch to become a speaker: Each doctor approached to speak was told that he was being recruited to serve as a “thought leader”.
This phrase, Webb says, seems to have incredible psychological power.
“When you do say ‘thought leader' I think it's a huge ego boost for the physicians,” Webb says. “It's like a feather in their cap. They get a lot from it.”