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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 4012

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

Greenwood J.
Prescribing and salesmanship
HAI News 1989 Aug; (48):1-2, 11


The study examined the use general practitioners made of information sources and their impact upon prescribing for both new and current medications. Although most general practitioners considered professional sources more important than commercial ones, 36% considered the sales representative a “very important influence”. When GPs were asked to state which source they had used in the decision to prescribe a new drug, the sales representative received the highest frequency of mentions. In the case of one product,some 77% of GPs favoured the “commercial” view of a product rather than the weight of medical evidence, while “commercial” views of three other products were favoured by 55%, 28% and 13% of GPs respectively. Sales representatives were also interviewed. The most striking finding here was that two thirds of the responses could be regarded as critical of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole and just under half of the responses were comments which were directly critical of representatives as a group.

*analytic survey/United Kingdom/primary care doctors/sales representatives/source of information/attitude toward promotion/attitude toward industry/quality of prescribing/ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: HEALTH PROFESSIONALS/ATTITUDES REGARDING PROMOTION: SALES REPRESENTATIVES/EVALUATION OF PROMOTION: DETAILING/INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION: PRESCRIBING, DRUG USE/PROMOTION AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION: DOCTORS


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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education