Saturday, June 03, 2006


Consider the introduction of this letter I just opened:
Dear Patient,
As a person with asthma, you are probably aware of the challenges that asthma has on your life and daily activities....
Genentech wants me to take part in an asthma "discussion group." Which is interesting, and they would feed me dinner and pay me $250.

But here's the thing: I don't have asthma. So how the heck did they get my information? My nasal steroid (which, as you know, I am devoted to) is not one of the drugs they ask about on the patient questionnaire, plus I kind of doubt that nasal steroids are a big part of asthma management. So it didn't come from some kind of prescribing database.

I've actually wondered if I do have mild asthma, because I get wheezy sometimes around allergens and in cold weather. But my doctor's not interested in my wheezing, and if Genentech knows something she doesn't, well, that's just creepy.

Besides wondering why me, I'm also curious what Genentech is up to. They include the patient information on their spectacularly expensive asthma drug, Xolair...but why? Could this mailing somehow count as a Xolair print ad? Because when I say "patient information," I don't mean, like, a glossy Xolair pamphlet - I mean the full page, front and back, small print, telling you things like the results of a clinical trail on Brazilians "at high risk for geohelminthic infections." (Xolair increased their risk - it blocks IgE, which is good if you have allergy problems but less good if you're likely to run into intestinal parasites.)


Sophist said...

creepy. yes intriguing!

Sophist said...

Oh, dude, guess who I met this past weekend... David Perlman and Richard Harris! I got to spend lots of time talking to each of them at a symposium.

towwas said...

Awesome! Did you tell Richard Harris you know me? He's the bomb. (I gather Dave Perlman is also the bomb, but I don't know him as well.)