WHO Health Systems Library
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Drug Promotion - What We Know, What We Have Yet to Learn - Reviews of Materials in the WHO/HAI Database on Drug Promotion - EDM Research Series No. 032
(102 pages)

Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
close this folderReview 1. What attitudes do professional and lay people have to promotion?
View the document1.1 Attitudes do not necessarily match behaviour
View the document1.2 Studies of the prevalence of different attitudes to promotion (excluding direct-to-consumer advertising)
View the document1.3 Do trainers and trainees think that sales representatives should be banned during medical training?
View the document1.4 Do doctors think they have enough training to deal with sales representatives?
View the document1.5 Do doctors think that sales representatives have a valuable role in medical education?
View the document1.6 What do health professionals think about the quality of the information provided by sales representatives and advertisements about drugs?
View the document1.7 What do other groups of people think of promotional information?
View the document1.8 What are doctors’ views of pharmaceutical company support of conferences and speakers?
View the document1.9 Do trainee doctors plan to see sales representatives in their future practice?
View the document1.10 What are professionals’ and patients’ attitudes to the appropriateness of gifts?
View the document1.11 Do health professionals feel that discussions with sales representatives affect prescribing?
View the document1.12 Do people feel that accepting gifts influences prescribing?
View the document1.13 Ethics and promotion
View the document1.14 Attitudes to direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs
View the document1.15 Studies of differences in attitudes to promotion (excluding DTCA)
View the documentSummary of conclusions
View the documentDirections for future research
Open this folder and view contentsReview 2. What impact does pharmaceutical promotion have on attitudes and knowledge?
Open this folder and view contentsReview 3. What impact does pharmaceutical promotion have on behaviour?
Open this folder and view contentsReview 4. What interventions have been tried to counter promotional activities, and with what results?
View the documentFinal conclusions
View the documentReferences

Summary of conclusions

Doctors’ attitudes to promotion vary, and do not necessarily match their behaviour. Their opinions differ on the value of sales representatives, on whether they should be banned during medical training and on whether doctors are adequately trained to interact with them.

Most doctors think information from pharmaceutical companies is biased, but many think it is useful. Health professionals find small gifts from drug companies acceptable. Most believe that drug representatives or gifts do not influence them personally, but do influence many colleagues. Few patients know that doctors receive promotional gifts, and so few disapprove.

Doctors who rely on promotion tend to be older, less conservative, see more patients, are general practitioners rather than specialists, have less access to peers and have a more positive attitude towards medicines.

Opinions about DTCA are mixed. Most companies, the advertising industry and the media favour it, while doctors and others (e.g. government, NGOs and health professional organizations) generally oppose it. Consumers and patients are divided: some, especially the less educated, would welcome more information from whatever source, while others distrust commercial bias.

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Last updated: May 4, 2012