This story comes from Tony Winter, and made me laugh

Perilous pill pushing

 It’s a good life as a medical rep.  All you have to do is go on a training course and then persuade GPs to prescribe your drug – and there’s a free car thrown in!  That’s the way it seemed to me, anyway, as I embarked on my first job as what the Americans call a “detail man”.

At the end of our training course we were  dispatched to various parts of London to practise our trade on the unsuspecting General Practitioners of that city.  So it was that I found myself in Kings Cross with my shiny new briefcase and a map showing the locations of all the GPs.  Some would only see drug reps by appointment, but I found one who looked perfect.  Doctor Rosenbaum’s surgery was in the centre of the district and he would see reps if they waited in the queue.

 The main product we were promoting was an antibiotic, which could be quite profitable.  Our Unique Selling Point, or USP, was safety.  We had evidence to show that our drug would not harm the unborn child, and so could be prescribed to pregnant mothers (so could all the competitive products, but the trainers conveniently forgot to mention that to us).

The evidence comprised X-ray photographs of pregnant laboratory mice which had been given the drug, and showed that the foetus was unaffected in each case.  Copies of these were displayed in plastic sleeves in a Nyrex folder which could be whipped out of the briefcase in seconds.


I was filled with a mix of confidence and trepidation as I ascended the stairs to the first floor surgery, and having waited my turn entered the doctor’s office.  The room was massive, and Dr. Rosenbaum sat at a huge desk in the centre looking rather like Ernst Stavro Blofeld; I wouldn’t have been at all surprised had he been stroking a cat.  Not so confident now, I introduced myself and my product.


“So tell me”, he said, in an accent that sounded like a ham actor auditioning for the part of Fagin, “Why should I prescribe this stuff instead of one of the dozens of other drugs I could use?”

This was my cue.  Out came the Nyrex folder from its place in the briefcase, and I launched into the start of my prepared spiel.

“This”, I explained, full of fake bravado, “is a photograph of a mouse…”  I got no further.

Sold!” His voice came booming back to stop me mid-sentence.

I was bemused.  “Sorry?”

 “The very next mouse comes in here complaining of Bronchitis, I will prescribe your product!”.