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Documents produced in a 1996 lawsuit have revealed some hitherto little known secrets about how drug companies influence doctors to prescribe their drugs. In addition to mainstream marketing and the very common free lunches provided by drug representatives, MSNBC.com draws on a recent article in the Annals of Internal Medicine to detail insidious, though apparently legal, techniques used to influence doctors’ prescribing habits. Most disconcerting is drug companies’ use of certain doctors, in exchange for honoraria and grants, to influence the prescribing habits of their colleagues. The lead author of the study published in the Annals, Dr. Michael Steinman of the University of California, says, “It is very disturbing. It really does a disservice to patient care.”

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