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Surprise alert: When drugs are marketed to doctors, they prescribe them.

Last week, CNN reported shocking news: over 80% of the doctors who filed Medicare claims for H.P. Acthar Gel (a seizure treatment drug) received money or other goodies from the manufacturer. [Insert shocked face here!] This is a classic channel marketing technique, a branch of marketing that gets far less attention than advertising and promotional marketing, but that remains a critical part of the marketing mix. It’s unlikely you’ve ever seen a television or magazine ad for Acthar, and your doctor might not have either. It’s niche. But they’ve had visits from reps offering speaking and consulting “contracts” to talk about the drug. How is the patient supposed to know if their doctor received gifts from a drug manufacturer? Or if the drug is really the best choice for them? Does the former matter if the latter is true? Does it feel icky?

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Photo credit: ProPublica

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