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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 2965

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

Lall S, Bibile S.
The political economy of controlling transnationals: the pharmaceutical industry in Sri Lanka, 1972-1976.
Int J Health Serv 1978; 8:(2):299-328


Abstract:

(Limited to parts of article dealing with promotion.) After the establishment of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation in Sri Lanka, promotion virtually disappeared for drugs that it imported. With the disappearance of promotion, the distribution of free samples, hospitality and visits by sales representatives practically stopped. According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (U.S.) this led to problems that the information function on drug research and applicablility performed by drug companies through their sales representatives was eliminated. To counter this “information gap”, the SPC started publishing and distributing two quarterlies of objective prescribing information.

This paper describes the experience of Sri Lanka in reforming the structure of production, importation, and distribution of pharmaceuticals in the period 1972-1976. It highlights the actions and reactions of transnational pharmaceutical corporations to these reforms, and traces the achievements and problems of the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation which was set up to implement the reforms. The roles of political leadership in regulating the power of drug transnationals, and of the medical profession in resisting reform, seem to be of crucial significance. Developing countries wishing to lower the present high cost of drug delivery must proceed with great care and immense caution, since complex problems of quality control, bioequivalence, medical acceptance, and consumer reeducation are involved.

Keywords:
*analysis/Sri Lanka/State Pharmaceuticals Corporation/developing countries/sales representatives/ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: INDUSTRY/PROMOTION AND HEALTH NEEDS: PROMOTION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES/PROMOTIONAL TECHNIQUES: DETAILING Drug Industry* Humans National Health Programs/economics* National Health Programs/organization & administration Pharmaceutical Preparations/supply & distribution* Politics Public Policy Sri Lanka

 

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963