Pill Pushers Push the Envelope in Developing Countries

Prescription pillsPharmaceutical companies "are turning to the developing world as profits stagnate in the West. But regulation in these countries is weak," writes Jeremy Laurance. A new report by Consumers International titled "Drugs, Doctors and Dinners" (PDF) describes how companies push their drugs in poorer countries. "In Pakistan, doctors who wrote 200 prescriptions for one high-price drug were offered the down payment on a new car. ... India was one of the fastest-growing markets last year, with sales increasing 17.5 per cent to $7.3 bn. But the health commission, in 2005, labelled 10 out of the 25 top-selling medicines as being 'irrational or non-essential or hazardous.'" Consumers International states that "doctors are offered everything from mousepads to motorbikes" by drug marketers. "Pervasive marketing contributes to 50% of medicines in the developing world being wrongly prescribed."