Mens Sana Monographs, III,4-5, Nov. 2005-Feb. 2006 13
Junkets and Trinkets
the brief interregnum of a recent conference, we sat by the side of a pool. It was dusk. And just before the entertainments
for the evening were to begin with cocktails and dinner, we were chatting about conferences and sponsorship.
arrangements were, to say the least, lavish. And docs from all over were visibly wallowing in five star luxuries. Strolling
the lawns, sipping drinks, moving in and out of chauffeur driven cars, being treated like some feudal lords of yester years.
Gratis. The joy of meeting friends, and networking with colleagues for positions and honours, was palpable. And that all this
was complementary added to the fun. Although taken for granted. And accepted as part of conference commitment of sponsors,
who made their bucks due to docs’ prescriptions anyway.
I had lately been studying the working of pharma
sponsors. Talking to some of them too. Well, I found they had their priorities perfect. No option but to pamper docs, they
said. But see to it that prescriptions poured in. The greater the pampering, the greater the doc’s commitment expected.
If it did not work out that way, discreet reminders. Later, more insistent ones. Finally, stoppage of sponsorship. Never talk
about the idiosyncrasies and demands of one doc to another, howsoever idiotic they may be. (I meant the demands, but applying
it to the docs may not really be invalid.) And never forgot that all activities were with only one motive in mind: translating
into profits for the company.
What did we talk at the poolside? I expressed
my concern to my fellow docs. Where did all this money come from? The sponsors put in millions for delegates. Plus ads. Plus
now litigation costs as patients and activists had become belligerent. And the litigation costs were sky rocketing, as drugs
reported serious side effects. Plus the brakes on price escalation of drug by legislators and activists. Was it not time to
rein in the expenses? For docs to expect less pampering, and for pharma to place a voluntary cut on junkets and trinkets?
Would not both pharma and docs have to bear the brunt as litigation keep increasing?
Well, the docs heard, bemused. They appeared
convinced. But in no mood to do anything about it. I suggested a voluntary moratorium on spending by pharma, and on unrealistic
expectations by fellow docs. Well, it went in a bit.
By then it was time for the jamboree to follow.
And the pharma sponsors came in their ties and their smiles to welcome the docs for the waiting festivities.
All consciousness evaporated with the spirits
And the high decibel DJ saw to it that no other
sounds registered. Including that of the conscience.
Well, one lives and learns.
This monograph is the result of that arousal
of the spirit.
And that sound.
And I would like to believe that this sound
is of the conscience being in the right place.
Mens Sana Monographs [MSM]: A Mens Sana Research Foundation Publication