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
Open this folder and view contentsReview 1. What attitudes do professional and lay people have to promotion?
close this folderReview 2. What impact does pharmaceutical promotion have on attitudes and knowledge?
View the document2.1 Reported use of promotion as a source of drug information
View the document2.2 Reported use of promotion as a source of information in adopting new medicines
View the document2.3 Impact of promotion on self-reported attitudes and knowledge
View the document2.4 Research designs that aim to avoid the limitations of self-report data
View the documentSummary of conclusions
View the documentDirections for future research
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

Directions for future research

There is no literature in the database on the impact of promotion on the attitudes and knowledge of other people, such as consumers, pharmacists, nurses, or drugstore staff, all of whom may be important decision-makers about medicines. Future studies could include these groups. That the effects of promotion are likely to be great is suggested by long experience with promotion of breast-milk substitutes throughout the world93. Publications in this area are of course outside the scope of this database.

Promising research designs, such as that pioneered by Avorn et al., seem worth pursuing further. One possible approach would be to examine a treatment for which there is substantial scientific support, but little advertising, such as oral rehydration solution (ORS). If such a study also found that doctors claimed to be influenced more by scientific rather than commercial information, but tended not to prescribe ORS (because there is little or no commercial information about its benefits), Avorn et al.’s conclusions would be much strengthened. Such a study would also avoid the difficulty of excluding a drug from one’s prescribing repertoire: because in this case a treatment is being added rather than deleted. One of the advantages of this type of study is that it is relatively cheap: essentially it involved a telephone survey of 85 doctors.


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Last updated: May 4, 2012