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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 8565

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

Smith MC.
Drug product advertising and prescribing: a review of the evidence.
Am J Hosp Pharm 1977 Nov; 34:(11):1208-24


A review of the effect of advertising drug products in medical journals on the prescribing of drugs is presented. The scope of advertisiig, the content of advertising, the latent effects of advertising, the effects of advertising on prescribing, and the social costs and benefits of advertising are discussed. Advertising for antibiotic and psychotropic drug products is reviewed in some detail. It is concluded that there is inconclusive evidence that the pharmaceutical industry, through journal advertising, is persuading physicians to prescribe drugs too often or unwisely, or both. It is suggested that pharmacists study the information needs of health care practioners and provide good drug information services.

Advertising* Cost-Benefit Analysis Drug Industry Drug Therapy Drug Utilization* Prescriptions, Drug*


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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