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A study of perceptions and exposure of drug promotional literature among clinicians in a teaching hospital

 Department of Pharmacology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Neha Akhoon,
Department of Pharmacology, Armed Forces Medical College, Pune - 411 040, Maharashtra, India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/picr.PICR_36_19

Background: Drug promotional literature (DPL) forms a major marketing technique of pharmaceutical companies for propagating information regarding a drug. Many a times, it is the only source on which treating physicians depend for updating their knowledge about the existing and novel drugs. Aims and Objectives: This study was conducted to understand the clinicians’ perceptions about DPL and its critical appraisal so that relevant interventions can be made. Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional questionnaire based study. A self-administered validated questionnaire was administered to 125 clinicians working in a medical college, which sought responses on their perception of various aspects including interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference and decision making based on the DPL which they encounter in their day-to-day practices. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 100 clinicians reciprocated with complete questionnaire. 99% of the clinicians were exposed to pharmaceutical promotional activities and around 79% clinicians accepted that drug promotion has a considerable bearing on their prescribing practices. Majority (79%) of the clinicians felt that the accuracy of the claims in the various forms of DPL was between 50-75%. Amongst the various forms of DPL, brochures were adjudged as the most useful followed by interactions with medical representatives, advertisements in medical journals and direct mailers. a majority of the clinicians (69%) felt that, though the claims in the DPL are balanced but are supported by poor evidence. Around 75% clinicians perceived the primary intention of drug promotional literature was to boost company sales. Around 84% clinicians felt that doctors’ integrity can be compromised by accepting gifts from medical representatives. Over 75% of clinicians believed that training in interacting with medical representatives and assessing other forms of drug promotional literature should be imparted to undergraduates in medical colleges. Conclusion: Physicians need to be aware that the pharmaceutical industry may use drug advertisements to influence prescription patterns even when this results in distortion of scientific facts. The pharmaceutical industry should be more responsible and more meticulous in making sure that pharmaceutical claims referring to scientific studies are quoted accurately.

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