Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Just thought I’d share a recent bizarre experience.

I was invited by a company called Schlesinger Associates to participate in some kind of focus group or something, for which they would pay me 175 bucks (pre tax). In retrospect, it wasn’t enough, but anyway, I went to the address sometime in the afternoon. It was being held at an advertising firm in midtown, near the Manhattan Mall. I was led through a labyrinth of cubicles and was thanking GOD I don’t work in one of those.

I was placed in a medium sized boardroom by an unattractive young woman. It was just me and her, so I got nervous. Then I was told we were being filmed and there people in the NEXT ROOM watching me and my responses. Can you say “interrogation”?

Ostensibly, I knew the topic was vaccines, but because I’m not in an office setting (yet), I’ve never met the vaccine reps of any company. So I get questions like this:

“When you think of Merck vaccines, what animal do you think of and why?”


I had no idea what to say. I mean NONE! So I think I just said “leopard”. Leopard?? HAH!

Then she asked what animal do I think of when I think of Sanofi Aventis vaccines.

Oh jeez. I think I said “Owl”. They are very wise, aren’t they???

Then I was shown three plasterboards full of pictures that appear to have been taken in the 70’s, and asked which three pictures reminded me the most of the vaccine division of Merck. I don’t know about you, but I usually do NOT think of ANYTHING when I think of a vaccine maker.

I spent about thirty minutes making up a bunch of crap, was asked to fill out some paperwork, was handed an envelope filled with cash, and I booked it OUT of there.

So this is one of the places the $9 billion spent by the pharmaceutical companies per year on advertising goes: paying advertising firms to ask doctors what kind of animal Merck reminds them of. Ridiculous.

Tomorrow I’ll speak about how the media hurts doctors and practicing medicine.


Anonymous said...

Did the check clear?

Mike said...

They paid me in cash!

Anonymous said...

I think of vaccine makers as ants. They quietly work behind the scenes, doing all sorts of mysterious and maybe nefarious things from deep within the dark, wet, recesses of the body.

Or maybe termites. Termites have bacteria in their guts that allows them to digest otherwise inedible bits of plants. So a vaccine is like a termite.

Humming birds, too. They have that long needle like nose, plucking only the necessary bits from the flower like a pipette. Quiet, fragile, and elusive.

But if I was paid 175 dollars to talk about vaccines, my mind would drift immediately to smallpox, ebola, H5N1, TB, lyme disease, and Q fever. Maybe that's what they're trying to get away from.

Anonymous said...

i was looking to see if this place was legit and found your post. well, worst thing that can happen is i don't get my 200 dollars and i left work early. win win?

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