Want a car? Write a prescription

When doctor-payola shenanigans and questionable ads are regulated out of existence in industrialized countries, what's next? The developing world, of course. A new report from Consumers International says big drug makers are buying washing machines, laptops--even domestic cattle--to woo physicians in India, Pakistan and elsewhere. The reward for writing 200 scrips of a high-priced med? A down payment on a car. Some companies will pay a doc's club dues or private-school tuition for the offspring. Lavish trips and dinners are also common.

Meanwhile, the likes of Wyeth, Novartis, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are running advertisements without a whisper of drug side effects, the report says. Banned drugs often remain on store shelves. And up to 50 percent of prescriptions are inappropriate. Consumers International officials say the developing world is an easy target because of weak regulations. And with healthcare systems that are finally expanding, it's the best growth opportunity over the next four decades.

- check out the Consumers International's release
- read the Guardian Unlimited report

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