The blood pressure drug Bystolic hit the market in 2008. It faced a slew of cheap generics, so its maker, Forest Laboratories, needed to devise a plan. They launched a promotional assault targeted straight at the people scribbling on the pads: prescribing doctors. “It flooded the offices of health professionals with drug reps, and it hired doctors to persuade their peers to choose Bystolic — even though the drug hadn’t proved more effective than competitors,” says NPR in a damning exposé that includes some shocking numbers.
According to the article, at least 17 of the top 20 Bystolic prescribers in Medicare’s prescription drug program in 2010 have been paid by Forest to deliver promotional talks. And they together received $284,700 for speeches and more than $20,000 in meals in 2012. And it’s not just us over here at Atlas MD going, hmmm, I bet they prescribed a lot of the beta blocker Bystolic. NPR reports that in the 2012 fiscal year, sales of Bystolic reached $348 million, almost double its total from two years earlier.