Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dear Tina Turk, "Pharma Rep":

Something tells me that you're not really a Tina and might not even be a "pharma rep," but I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt and will address you as so. After reading your interesting comment to me this morning on my last blog post, I have a number of questions that go beyond my perhaps knee-jerk, immediate response to the comment. I'm going to bank on you actually being a pharma rep and therefore hope that you'll visit here and perhaps respond, again. This being said, I do hope that you'll refrain from attacking me or my family personally.

I'll remind you of your comment:

I am a pharma rep and it really is not like that. You sound too angry and maybe you should help for that. Pharma has been ragged on too much, and it is not true. I feel sorry for you because that anger and bitterness is in your body and the only person you are hurting is yourself. I can see why some people in your family get upset with your rage.

My first question addresses your claim to being a pharma rep and "it" really not being like that. Like what? In the blog post and elsewhere on my blog, I've mainly written about my experience with "pharma," and whether it's paying $16,000 for a vial of ACTH or $949 for a 30-day supply of Onfi or going through the slow and torturous process of weaning a powerful narcotic from my child's 75 pound body, there are very few emotions other than despair and anger to express. I am perfectly aware that pharmaceuticals can also work powerfully toward the good, but other than writing some kind of caveat, I'm probably going to just write about my own experience and expertise. That being said, have you read the latest ten-part series on Johnson and Johnson? How about the story of just how the manufacturers of Oxycontin managed to saturate the market with their painkillers, snow physicians about their efficacy and contribute to the raging heroin addiction problem our country faces? I can write about that from experience, too, as I have several -- yes, SEVERAL -- relatives currently addicted to opiates and heroin. The goodness of pharmaceuticals has eluded us. So, when you say "it really not being like that," I'm interested to know what it's really like. I know for a fact, too, that other minds would love to know.

My second question refers to your assertion that I "sound too angry" and should get help for that anger. Thank you for that concern, if you are, indeed, concerned. To tell you the truth, I did waffle a bit about that post and asked myself whether it sounded too angry. I have friends and family who were very much helped by pharmaceuticals, by painkillers used at the end of life, by antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, by chemo for cancer and so on. I am sometimes painfully aware of my anger, my biases and the ineffectiveness of being and seeming so. I feel conflicted about expressing my anger, but I also believe that anger to be a justified response to the hegemony* of our medical/industrial complex over those people who dissent. Perhaps it's also a response to the patriarchy's hegemony over angry women. It's completely and utterly justified in reference to the clusterfuck that is marijuana policy in this country. In any case, what would you have me do otherwise?

Finally, this isn't a question -- or even a defense -- but I am aware of the corrosive effects of anger as well as how, when directed wisely, it can galvanize and energize. I am gifted (by chance, by luck, by the universe) with a talent for stringing together words to express myself. I'm going to always strive for truth, for expressing the world and my life as I see and experience it. Sometimes, I'm going to sound like a bitch, a whining and spoiled first-world ingrate. I appreciate when people call me on that and promise to always accept that criticism humbly and work on it. Other times, I'm going to rage and rant despite the "anger and bitterness" in my body and take my chances on it "hurting" myself. Why? I'll answer that. Not a week goes by that I don't get a telephone call, an email or a comment on this blog from someone who is grateful for my expressing my experience because it so closely resembles theirs, and they don't feel so alone. That makes any slights to my body worth it.

My final question concerns your stated understanding of why some people in my family get upset with my rage. Dragging my family into it sort of blows your cover as concerned Citizen Pharma Rep. Or are you actually in my family, Tina?


*Thanks to my friend Allison Ray Benevides who taught me everything I know about hegemony. You can read her brilliant take on everything here.


  1. Hmmm...Time for Tina to step out from behind the curtain or forever hold her (peculiar sense of) peace. I, for one, salute your anger, Elizabeth. If only more people who felt the same way could express it as powerfully as you do, things might change.

  2. Ooh! I love it when you use your powers for good! Tell it, woman! Speak the truth and shame the devil.

  3. Elizabeth, you are a genius. I've been admiring you for quite some time.

  4. Like you fucking need that!

    You are indeed gifted with a talent for stringing together words. Words of all sorts, painful - loving - angry - honest and gut wrenchingly hard won. Words that others struggling against such heart breaking odds are deeply grateful for.

    Truth from experience is mighty truth and your experience is to be respected and honored. As always I am incredibly proud of you and incredibly proud that you face such ignorant, arrogant and condescending thought with your brilliant Elizabethness.

    Much love to you.

  5. I've been laughing and laughing all morning. Im just in awe of any adult who says "I feel sorry for you" blah blah blah blah. Clearly "Tina" is one of the teenagers in your family. But that's cool. Cause we have a new family. One who respects and honors each other with empathy and love. Bravo Sis.

  6. Note to T.T.: Oh yes, it is like that!! Note to Elizabeth: Carry on!


  7. That old advert Elizabeth: says it all to Miss Tina.

  8. Yes. Yes. Yes. I sincerely hope Tina responds and explains her experience as a pharmaceutical rep. However, I sincerely doubt that there are any reps out there who fully understand the inner workings of their company's executive plan to make money hand over fist. And I stand by a comment I made several posts ago that anyone peddling these drugs ought to be witness to the first-hand effects of them - side effects and all - on the people who are taking them. I completely agree with your assessment that your experience with the drugs Sophie has been given over the years begs to be responded to with anger and frustration.

  9. Brilliant. You never use your anger for anything but good. This Tina is an ass.

  10. Amen. And also, I am existentially tired of people who find female anger inappropriate, and also? Tina's response sounds like my ex husband's response: gaslighting (you're crazy for thinking pharma is 'like that') and condescendingly concerned with your health (she's not, duh) and all around garbage. UGH.

  11. I'm not sure why a commenter, whether sincere or a troll or disguised relative, would be eager to identify as a drug rep as if that position conferred a perspective meaningful to this discussion. While not a member, thankfully, of the army struggling to control refractory seizures in their children, speaking as the mother of a very severely handicapped daughter I can assure DrugRep that it is the energy of proactive parents which drives many of the improvements for our kids. I've been privileged to watch mothers turn lousy school systems upside down, change social structures, and actualize world-class research, because the status quo was – is – unacceptable, and our children are suffering before our eyes. Anger is not the goal, but anger can concentrate that very vital energy.

  12. MaryLou Connolly
    MaryLou Connolly Anger? Rage? Why wouldn't we be angry?Parents are losing children daily to a condition that is woefully underfunded in research and education and saturated with shitloads of mind numbing drugs with side effects that are in some cases worse than the seizures they are supposed to treat. I too think Tina may not be a pharmacy rep but given the state of MY life especially the past 4 months, that felt sooooooooo good. Thank you Tina (she said sweetly).
    Like · Reply · 3 · 3 hrs


  13. “Never retreat, never explain, never apologize. Get the thing done and let them howl.”
    -Nellie McClung

    I know I have said that before but last time it was off topic and now it isn't.

  14. Time was, pharma reps were usually medical students or university students of some type at a minimum. I see standards have fallen in that regard. Nonetheless, I doubt the individual who strung together that comment would be able to understand your post Elizabeth without a dictionary near to hand, so consider it your contribution to the education of the nation's youth. A grateful nation thanks you and so do I.


  15. For the record, I don't think you're an angry or bitter woman. I think you are Sophie's best advocate and you are fighting for what's best for her.

    It's funny, I was speaking with a journalist yesterday, one of my patients, and we were talking about how the anonymity of the internet allows people to spew vitriol without any consequences.

    Sending hugs.

  16. Yeah, I thought from that last line that Tina might be a relative. Your response is actually quite loving in the way it entertains and explains each point.

  17. LOL -- this is awesome. If Tina IS a pharma rep, she may need to believe it "really is not like that" in order to face herself in the morning. I assumed she made the family comment because, as I recall, you've alluded before on the blog to your family's negative reactions to some of your posts here and on Facebook. (Political ones, I think.) But yeah, maybe she IS in your family. I hope she reveals herself, but I doubt it.

  18. Wow, yes I am a Pharma Rep. It goes to show how crazy and angry you are by your reaction. It is a great experience a being a pharma rep and I found out that pharmaceutical companies are really beat up on. Too much and there is a lot of bad information out there. Stuff that is not true. And to "drag" your family into it? You complained about how some members of your family can't deal with your anger. You come across as someone filled with too much rage (and having the daughter that you have is no excuse), and yes, I can see why members of your family would get upset. Frankly, I don't know how they can deal with you. You are offensive. It is sad how you don't get it and how reactive you are. & how the only person you are hurting is yourself. F@#$k pharma? Fuck you right back.

    1. I'm confused as to why you didn't answer any of the questions Elizabeth posed. Is it easier to call names and accuse than it is to defend your position with logic? There may be some pharmaceutical companies out there that are concerned with patient safety, but all you have to do is read accounts like the ten part one on Johnson & Johnson's years-long campaign of deceit and outright fraud to know that profits drive more of the actions than customer care. I have no doubt that it is a "great experience" being a pharma rep - they are compensated well and welcomed by physicians' offices everywhere, thanks to the sandwiches and catered lunches and lattes they are authorized to bring when they are peddling their wares. What is not a "great" experience is being on the receiving end of a drug's horrific side effects or needing a drug desperately and being forced to pay thousands and thousands of dollars a month for it when it means you're choosing between food or rent and medication. It is a wise and compassionate person who tries to educate themselves with regard to all of the sides of a story (much like Elizabeth did here, by asking you questions, and inviting you to talk about the details of what you know regarding "big pharma"). It is a defensive and uncaring person who resorts to personal attacks and refuses to even entertain the notion of what someone else's life might be like. Kario

    2. I'm curious to know how you came to this blog and why you read it. Because your attack on Elizabeth feels so personal and you have zero empathy for her incredibly complicated situation. Most of the readers of this blog, I think, are either personal friends of Elizabeth's, other writers, fans of literature, or people (men and women) who have children. You seem to be none of these things, which isn't odd on its own, but you're sounding an awful lot like a...troll-ish hate reader. And you didn't share any of your deep knowledge of the inner workings of Big Pharma (which, if you're really a pharmaceutical sales rep, is probably pretty limited, but still), you just flung a lot of shit around and left the building. Boooooooo.

    3. I always resort to poetry in the end, Tina. Here's one that comes to mind by Thomas Hardy:

      Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave?

      "Ah, are you digging on my grave,
      My loved one? — planting rue?"
      — "No: yesterday he went to wed
      One of the brightest wealth has bred.
      'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
      'That I should not be true.'"

      "Then who is digging on my grave,
      My nearest dearest kin?"
      — "Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
      What good will planting flowers produce?
      No tendance of her mound can loose
      Her spirit from Death's gin.'"

      "But someone digs upon my grave?
      My enemy? — prodding sly?"
      — "Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
      That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
      She thought you no more worth her hate,
      And cares not where you lie.

      "Then, who is digging on my grave?
      Say — since I have not guessed!"
      — "O it is I, my mistress dear,
      Your little dog , who still lives near,
      And much I hope my movements here
      Have not disturbed your rest?"

      "Ah yes! You dig upon my grave…
      Why flashed it not to me
      That one true heart was left behind!
      What feeling do we ever find
      To equal among human kind
      A dog's fidelity!"

      "Mistress, I dug upon your grave
      To bury a bone, in case
      I should be hungry near this spot
      When passing on my daily trot.
      I am sorry, but I quite forgot
      It was your resting place."

  19. Tina, Tina, Tina. Project much?

  20. I think Elizabeth's been being fucked right back for 21 years, Tina. Pretty sure the business that feeds you has done her far more harm than she's done it.

    I can't imagine pharma reps are really told much about the behind-the-scenes of their business.

    I always think of the story of GM, on finding out one of their cars had a fault that was causing fatal accidents. They decided, for the good of their company, that it was cheaper to pay out compensation for the deaths that would arise than it would be to recall the faulty cars.

    I wonder how widespread that business model really is?

  21. Hope you read all the comments then Ms. Turk. You may learn something about the industry in which you have chosen to work. It is my experience that those who paste the angry label on others are actually projecting. Perhaps you are angry that Ms. Elizabeth here is actually right.

  22. Tina your comments do not inspire confidence in your industry. Come back when you are the caregiver of a special needs child. This blog is not for you.

  23. Tina, you have some nerve. Responding to a blog of a parent of a special needs child is not only inappropriate, it's invasive and possibly actionable. At least I would hope it's actionable. Get off this blog. I repeat. Get off this blog. Take your uneducated spewing elsewhere. Elizabeth has her empathic and exquisitely capable hands full.

  24. I guess not only has education gone by the wayside in pharma reps, but also professionalism. Perhaps it is difficult for them to find dealers or pushers to "rep" their poisonous wares. I know my brother who was a pharma rep in university was tempted to drop out to rep full time because of the huge income but thought better and became a chiropractor instead. Couldn't deal with the karmic debt, I imagine.

    As for you "Tina" go fuck yourself. No one here is interested in your "opinions" or those of your employers. You can go tell them that. Not from Elizabeth who is far too kind and eloquent to call you out for the troll and the bully you are but from me and all the rest of us caregivers who are tired of fraudsters like you committing crimes against our loved ones for which you will never be prosecuted.

    I got your crazy and angry right here bitch, and I could give a rat's ass about your "great experience" or your amateur assessments of other people's mental state. Now don't try to understand words that you can't even read, just run along like a good little bitch and turn another trick for your pimping whoremaster overlords.

    (Sorry Elizabeth and everyone else for stooping to her level but sometimes a nasty bitch needs it broken down simple so she can understand it)


  25. This reminds me of the low budget indie movie, "Side Effects, the Movie" that was written and directed by a former pharmaceutical sales rep, Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau. It's ten years old and I suspect that regulations have been put into place to slow down the copious flow of cash and fabulous trips given to doctors in the name of educating them on new drugs since then; however, reading about this woman's experience as a rep was eye opening and made me realize how despite the obvious conflicts of interest reps have when advising and educating about various drugs, doctors don't have many other avenues to stay current on what's available and what works.

  26. What an angry nasty woman you are, Tina. Shame on you.

  27. Tina you are mean plain and simple. And there is no pill for that.

  28. My condolences to the grieving families who lost their children to epilepsy this month. Thank you for reminding us this illness can be lethal. I recently mentioned that fact to a skeptical family member and will use your post to convince her. Some of my folks expect me to take C.'s illness in my stride and refrain from anything resembling hysteria over it.

    And please rage on. Your anger is focused and beneficial to so many of us. Don't let that "pharma rep/possible relative" silence you.

    I'm so glad to hear of Sophie's progress and seizure-free ten days. How great that you have a Dr. to direct your tinkering. What is Sophie's current dose?

    And those moving photos of Sophie - especially the one with Henry lovingly supporting her - are so special.

    (As you can see, I'm doing catch-up today after a hectic week.)

    P.S. That was a great illustration choice; especially given Mornidine's scary track record:
    ...introduced to the U.S. market in 1959 by G. D. Searle & Company. It was advertised for morning sickness and had post-surgical applications as well.]It was eventually withdrawn from the U.S. market in 1969, after reports of hepatotoxicity (liver injury) ...Mornidine advertisements for postoperative recovery claimed "unusually low side effects". However, contemporary comparative trials found that hypotension (low blood pressure) was a substantial concern when the drug was given at normal dosages for this indication; blood pressure reductions of up to 70 mmHg were reported.

  29. Wow, Tina, if that's really your name and occupation. Don't mean to be picky but your sentence structure could use some work, as could your logic and frankly, your apparent lack of compassion.

    Elizabeth darling. We're all here for you. And you know it. Block Tina. Bye-bye, Tina. Peddle your hate somewhere else.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...