Psychiatric Pharmas Lay Out the Loot
06.08.07 | 2:00 AM
[h3] [/h3] Psychiatrists attending the American Psychiatric Association conference in San Diego last month could stop by the exhibit hall, where reps from 160 companies doled out giveaways. The pharmas spent tens of thousands of dollars on booth space to tempt the docs to use their branded tchotchkes.
The next time you reach for a tissue in the middle of a weepy therapy session, don't be surprised to see this reminder that depression is nothing to sneeze at. Effexor, an antidepressant, not only provides the tissue, but warns on the dispenser about rare side effects like life-threatening serotonin syndrome, sustained increases in blood pressure and "discontinuation symptoms" when people stop taking the drug.
Getting this flash memory drive marked with Namenda, a drug aimed at improving memory and function in Alzheimer's patients, meant taking a six-question, multiple-choice quiz.
Reps promoting the powerful antipsychotic drug Risperdal handed out balls made of gooey gel and shot through with holes -- easily the least-useful promotional item distributed at the conference.
Pharmaceutical giant Wyeth promoted its green packaging initiative by giving away plastic bags.
The maker of sleep aid Ambien handed out these trippy stapler-and-tape-dispenser combos -- presumably not to be taken at bedtime.
Provigil, marketed for narcolepsy and the recently minted "shift-change disorder," is a drug that "improves wakefulness." Provigil reps gave leather-bound, personally engraved journals to attendees who completed a brief quiz, and who can now keep track of every waking thought, including the psychoactive and euphoric effects occasionally brought on by this central-nervous-system stimulant.
What happens if you mix these stimulating Provigil pads with the snooze-inducing Ambien sticky notes? We don't want to know.
This nifty Provigil wireless mouse actually came with batteries -- hard to find during those middle-of-the-night online poker and eBay sessions. (Prescribing doctors are advised in the literature to keep an eye on patients who have a history of abusing stimulants.)
After a heart-stopping moment of thinking Invega's manufacturer was handing out free samples of this powerful new antipsychotic, it turned out to be a hallucination: The box opened into a Rubik's Cube-like calendar.
Marplan is an old-school MAOI antidepressant used when nothing else has worked. They don't need to wow the shrinks; they just want you to be able to get on a plane.
Note the handy list of things you can't eat when you're taking Marplan, including aged cheese, tap beer, sauerkraut, red wine and most soy products, including tofu and soy sauce. In case you weren't depressed enough.
And the pens, oh the pens. Risperdal, Chantix, Namenda, Neurostar, Ambien. The better to write those prescriptions with and be sure you spell the names right.