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Pushing Drugs

How medical marketing influences doctors and patients

When John D. Abramson was practicing family medicine in Hamilton, Mass., he prided himself on how conscientiously he selected the drugs that he prescribed. He closely followed pharmaceutical research. He kept track of the latest medical guidelines. And he maintained his distance when company salespeople, with promotional pitches at the ready, appeared at the practice that Abramson shared with several colleagues during the 1980s and 1990s. He typically didn't speak to pharmaceutical sales agents, although he did let them leave behind free samples of drugs that their companies sold.

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