Greatly Influence Doctors’ Prescribing Habits
representatives from pharmaceutical companies greatly
influence general practitioners’ (GPs) decisions of whether to
prescribe new drugs.
that the information may be misleading, biased or inaccurate,
the study found that family doctors are more likely to rely on
information supplied by drug manufacturers rather than on
information from independent sources.
researchers said, GPs relied on the pharmaceutical industry as
their major information source.
In the study,
researchers asked 107 GPs in northwest England to explain how
they made the decision to prescribe certain new drugs. A total
of 19 drugs that had been introduced in the United Kingdom
between January 1998 and May 1999 were included in the study.
The doctors were
asked to describe the context in which they prescribed the new
drugs, the reasons why the chose one drug instead of another,
and how they obtained the information that influenced their
GPs were initially introduced to new drugs through sales
representatives. Other, less influential, sources included
newspapers and hospital consultants.
were also the greatest influence on the GPs’ decisions of
which drugs to prescribe, followed by consultants and patient
requests for specific treatments.
About 70 percent
of GPs regarded drug representatives as an efficient way to
obtain new drug information, according to researchers. While
the doctors were generally wary of the drug industry’s
objectives, they tended to believe that its information would
be selective but accurate.
The GPs reported
that they could generally spot misleading information,
however, according to study findings only 17 percent of GPs
sought out evidence from peer-reviewed journals before making
prescribing decisions. Their reasons for not seeking such
evidence-based information included lack of time, difficulty
in interpretation, irrelevance and lack of attention to
The study warns
that pharmaceutical companies have a great influence on GPs
and stresses the urgent need for straightforward and reliable
drug information from independent sources.
Family Practice January
As I said last
are spending about 15 billion dollars a year on physician
physicians have no clue that the drug companies are spending
(on average) $10,000 per doctor to influence their behavior.
The doctors, of course, do not receive a check, but the perks
are quite significant.
don't realize that they actually lose that much income and
more if they factor in the time they lose by sitting with the
drug company reps and going to their "free" meals and
lectures. Doctors also often overlook what a fiduciary
responsibility is and therefore don’t’ realize that they need
to carefully analyze the costs involved in recommending
are sometimes appropriate and at times can save a person’s
life, most of the time they are unnecessary, harmful and
expensive. They cause patients to divert much of their
hard-earned income to the drug companies, which further
perpetuates this indirect physician subsidy.
these drug companies are not is stupid. There is no way they
would spend $15 billion a year to market to physicians unless
they received a significant return on their
Did I say
return on investment?
The fact of
the matter is that the United States alone is spending nearly
$1 trillion for health care each year.
That is one
thousand billion dollars.
Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois was fond of talking
about Defense Department spending by saying "a billion dollars
here and a billion dollars there, and before you know it you
are talking about real money."
believe that there is plenty of profit to be found in that