Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Focus Groups

One thing keeping me busy this summer is working on a research team. We are conducting focus groups, talking to parents of pre-adolescent girls about the decisions regarding the Gardasil HPV vaccine. We discuss Merck's advertising for the vaccine (with the terribly annoying repeated, "one less, one less" campaign). We also discuss the Virginia State mandate that all girls entering the sixth grade need to have the vaccine or opt out. There has been some interesting discussion regarding this question. Whether this should be mandated by the state is the main question for parents. There are only 7 years or so of data available, so what are the long term effects? Many interesting questions and avenues of discussion have been explored in the 90-120 minute groups. It has been a terrific experience for me in working with this kind of research team. I am learning a lot about research and techniques for studies. I, frustratingly, am also learning about bureaucratic crap, but such is the future in academia for Roger and I.

Working in the medical field for the past 10 years has given me some ideas about working with drug companies and representatives. I am torn between the necessity of drug research and the wasteful spending done on advertising and lunches and notepad and pens and all the other crap they can peddle. All in the name of future research. Costs of drugs continue to climb, and will continue to climb. I guess that is the way it has to be. I once thought of working for a drug company, as a ophthalmic drug representative, but the thought of working for Merck or others like it just seems like a poor choice in employers. Luckily, that won't be an issue for me.

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