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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 13900

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Shankar PR.
Singapore Med J 2008 Apr; 49:(4):363-5


Dear Sir,
Pharmaceutical promotion is a fact of life for doctors and prescribers the world over. In the United States of America (USA), almost USD 21 billion was spent on promotion in 2002.(1) In many developing countries, medical representatives frequently serve as the only source of drug information.(1) In India, the huge number of products on the market makes selection of the right drug, and its correct use, increasingly difficult. Commercial drug information far outweighs independent and unbiased drug information.(2) In Nepal, many rural areas may lack access to medicines, but Kathmandu and other cities are booming markets for pharmaceuticals.(3) Aggressive promotion has a substantial impact on prescribing behaviour.(3) In Singapore, drug companies spend about $60 million a year-roughly 9% of sales-on promoting their products. As they are not allowed to advertise directly to consumers, they spend the money on educating doctors and providing free samples which are not meant for sale.(4)

Aggressive promotion has been shown to influence the prescribing behaviour of doctors…

Advertising as Topic* Drug Industry* Humans Internet Patient Education as Topic Physician's Practice Patterns*


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909