Many people rely on medications supplied by pharmaceutical companies to manage pain, mental health conditions, and even to survive.
But the ethical practices of these pharmaceutical companies are often shady at best, and now one former pharmaceutical sales rep is stepping forward to tell the story of what she witnessed as an employee for several major pharmaceutical companies.
“Confessions Of An Rx Drug Pusher”
Gwen Olsen spent 15 years working for various pharmaceutical companies as a sales representative, meaning her job was to represent the medications pharmaceutical companies were producing to doctors, hospitals, and other health care institutions and providers.
As a pharmaceutical representative, Olsen says, “We were being trained to misinform people” about the potential side effects of many commonly-prescribed medications.
Olsen details her experiences in her recent book, Confessions Of An Rx Drug Pusher, which is written from her own perspective about her life as a sales representative for pharmaceutical companies.
“Contrary to popular beliefs, the pharmaceutical industry isn’t in the business of health and healing. They are in the business of disease management and symptom(s) maintenance,” Olsen writes on her blog.
“They are beholden to their shareholders and concerned about their corporate profit margins. The executives of these companies live and die by their “market shares” and bottom lines… pure and simple.”(1)
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Truth From Tragedy
In a recent interview, Olsen opened up about the series of tragic events that led to her writing her book in the hopes of bringing clarity to the public about the ways in which medications are marketed and sold.
“My niece was 22 years old, studying at Indiana University, a pre-med student,” Olsen says in the interview(2). “She was in a car accident and was prescribed vicodin for pain.”
Olsen’s niece quickly became addicted to the prescription painkillers, and began taking different pills to help her concentrate despite the sedative effects of the drugs.
Battling addiction and depression, the young woman eventually dropped out of school and committed suicide by burning herself alive.
Following her niece’s suicide, Olsen felt compelled to quit her job and dedicate herself to spreading the word about the practices she observed during her time in the pharmaceutical industry.
Since then she has testified before the US Food and Drug Administrations Psychopharmacology Committee, as well as several legislative committees, and has been an activist against cases of psychiatric abuse.
Olsen is adamant about the idea that many prescriptions, particularly for psychiatric medications, are ultimately unnecessary and can cause more harm than good, especially when given to children. But she maintains that everyone, regardless of age, is at risk of a prescription drug tragedy, like the one that befell her niece.