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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 4449

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: news

Saunders C.
Program targets drug rep input.
Australian Doctor Weekly 2004 Sep 1

Full text:

A program aimed at medical students is being developed to curb doctors’ reliance on pharmaceutical representatives for drug information.

Dr Peter Mansfield, a GP and research fellow at the University of Adelaide’s department of general practice, said there were at least 13 observational studies that showed the more GPs relied on drug companies for information, the less medically appropriate their prescribing was.

A new study conducted by Dr Mansfield, director of drug advertising watchdog Healthy Skepticism, and colleagues suggested targeting medical students might be an appropriate way to effect behaviour change.

In the study, 119 second-year medical students were randomised to read an article that presented a moral-based argument that receiving drug company gifts was inappropriate, or an evidence-based argument about unintended bias and harm for patients from relying on drug company information.

The results showed both strategies were equally effective. However, a small number of students were annoyed by the articles and said they were more likely to accept pharmaceutical company gifts and see drug reps.

Dr Mansfield said Healthy Skepticism would develop a teaching package on the ethics of doctor-drug company relationships for use by medical schools, a move supported by Professor Max Kamien, former head of general practice at the University of WA.

Professor Kamien said such a teaching package would be helpful as long as the modules were balanced and drug companies were allowed to put their view.


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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