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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2081

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

Prosser H, Almond S, Walley T.
Influences on GPs' decision to prescribe new drugs-the importance of who says what.
Fam Pract 2003 Feb; 20:(1):61-8


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to understand the range of factors that influence GPs’ uptake of new drugs METHODS: A total of 107 GPs selected purposively from high, medium and low new drug prescribing practices in two health authorities in the north west of England were interviewed using the critical incident technique with semi-structured interviews. Interview topics included reasons for prescribing new drugs launched between January 1998 and May 1999; reasons for prescribing the new drug rather than alternatives; and sources of information used for each prescribed drug.

RESULTS: Important biomedical influences were the failure of current therapy and adverse effect profile. More influential than these, however, was the pharmaceutical representative. Hospital consultants and observation of hospital prescribing was cited next most frequently. Patient request for a drug, and patient convenience and acceptability were also likely to influence new drug uptake. Written information was of limited importance except for local guidelines. GPs were largely reactive and opportunistic recipients of new drug information, rarely reporting an active information search. The decision to initiate a new drug is heavily influenced by ‘who says what’, in particular the pharmaceutical industry, hospital consultants and patients. The decision to ‘adopt’ a new drug is clinched by subsequent personal clinical experience.

CONCLUSIONS: Prescribing of new drugs is not simply related to biomedical evaluation and critical appraisal but, more importantly, to the mode of exposure to pharmacological information and social influences on decision making. Viewed within this broad context, prescribing variation becomes more understandable. Findings have implications for the implementation of evidence-based medicine, which requires a multifaceted approach.

General practice, information sources, prescribing influences, prescription drugs. Publication Types: Multicenter Study MeSH Terms: Decision Making Drug Utilization England Family Practice*/statistics & numerical data Female Humans Male Physician's Practice Patterns/statistics & numerical data*


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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.