March 27, 2011
Washington D.C., March 27, 2011 – Pharmaceuticals are a $650 plus billion dollar a year industry. For years the most profitable business in the U.S. has been the pharmaceutical corporations, which routinely top the annual fortune 500 list. Doctor prescribed drugs support an industry which out-earns the GNP of many nations.
A core attribute to big Pharma’s overwhelming ‘success’ lays in the liaison between the corporations and the ‘symptoms management’ health care industry: The pharmaceutical representative. The men and women we see meeting with physicians, walking into offices with gifts of lunch for the staff, meeting with the doctor while you wait for our appointment.
Gwen Olsen was a top level pharmaceutical rep for some of the biggest in the industry: Johnson & Johnson, Syntex Labs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbott Laboratories and Forest Laboratories.
Through some chilling wake up calls in her tenure, and the tragic drug-related death of her niece, Gwen has dedicated her life to making people aware of the dangers of prescription drugs and how the drug industry manipulates doctors into prescribing, and over prescribing, their drugs.
She is exposing the dark, deep-rooted deception and corruption that are prevalent in this industry.
Gwen Olsens words are powerful. Her message absolutely frightening. Below is a transcript of our conversation as well as a video of Gwen speaking out, including her appearance on a CBS Evening News Eye On Your Children news segment.
Adam Omkara: So you went into the industry with an altruistic mindset and you wanted to help people. When was it made apparent to you that the industry wasn’t based on that altruism, or even healing?
Gwen: Well, it was on the 2nd stage interview with the regional manager. He asked me why I wanted to get into the pharmaceutical industry. I said ‘well I really want to help people, that’s what I want to do’.
He kind of laughed, smiled, and said “Well, I’m not so sure about that. If altruism is what motivates you, then you better join the peace corp.” Then he smiled, turned around to his desk and started working on his calculator. He said “however, if money is what motivates you, let me tell you how you can retire a millionaire from this job young lady.”
He went into delineating my benefits, stock options, and it all turned into a big blur for me. I saw dollar signs. It sounded pretty good to a 26 year old. So, that’s how initially I was told it wasn’t altruistic.
Adam Omkara: And you said you were actually trained to misinform people- Can you elaborate on that?
Gwen: Well, initially when you start pharmaceutical sales training you are taken into the home office for a sort of ‘indoctrination’ that’s 2-6 weeks of intensive training. That’s where the industry turns representatives into psychological profilers and people pleasers. The reps learn how to be people analyzers, so they know how to best influence people. We were taught in training sessions called ‘knee to knees’ and ‘toe to toes’ where you have a line of reps that play the doctor and opposing lines that play the rep position.
You have to learn verbatim the company’s position and their marketing lines- you can’t even vary from that. You practice and practice until it flows naturally and doesn’t sound rehearsed.