Is your Doctor taking Payola?

It’s OK to bribe doctors but don’t try to get a song played on the radio by using any coercion. Maybe it’s just because I worked in radio that I find this a little ridiculous but bear with me here for a moment.

A Disc Jockey named Alan Freed, who many believe came up the term “Rock and Roll”, was hounded out of the industry and ended up drinking himself to an early grave after he was convicted of taking bribes of various types to play records. In 1960 the F.C.C. made this practice illegal. But Under US law, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime.

Confused yet? It gets worse.

Because of some recent attention drawn to this issue radio station’s have to log every contact with record companies and report it to the F.C.C. who should be worrying more about Janet Jackson showing off her mammary glands. If a record company sends a stick of gum to a program director they must make full disclosure.

But doctors are under no such compulsion. Medical industries like those who make drugs or medical devices are free to wine and dine, give free samples to doctors and even take them on trips. In one survey taken by the New England Journal of Medicine 78% of all doctors say they get free drug samples from Pharmaceutical reps. 83% admit they have received free food or drinks.

If a radio person is taken out to dinner by a record company employee the event must be logged sometimes even to the point where the items ordered must be disclosed. They have to sign many forms assuring everyone that no matter what they will not be influenced to play any songs on the radio.

Now I am not saying the idea of paying off or bribing a Program Director to play a song that sucks on the radio is a good thing. It’s not. But a pharmaceutical rep can and did go your Doctor and got him all liquored up and then asked him to prescribe more Vioxx. He gave the doctor bushel baskets full of Vioxx which was supposed to be a great drug for arthritis. Nothing wrong there? Vioxx has been shown to cause heart attacks and strokes and has been banned. But has anyone of the Pharmaceutical industry been hounded out of a job and forced to drink themselves to death? It’s to laugh.

No one is going to die because a bad record got on the air. Especially now that radio guys can’t even break wind after a record company dinner without recording the length, volume and odor. But bribing Doctors is OK.

Is this a great country or what?

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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