What Aussie Medical Students Think
In late 2009, PharmaPhacts sent out a brief survey to all Aussie and NZ medical students via their medical students’ societies to gauge their views on pharmaceutical companies and their interactions with med students. Here are some preliminary results:
So far, we have had 325 responses to the survey. These students were from unis all over the country:
And covered all different year groups:
43% of students said they did not know or were undecided as to the effect of pharmaceutical marketing in the Australian healthcare system. 28% said it played a positive role or was essential to the Australian healthcare system. 29% said it played a negative role or was damaging to the healthcare system.
A whopping 59% of students believe they receive too little education on pharmaceutical marketing from their medical schools. Another 11% of students were undecided on this matter; 28% believed they received sufficient information, and only 2% thought they received too much education.
When asked about pharmaceutical sponsorship of medical student societies, 49% of students believed it should be allowed with restrictions. 28% of students didn’t think it should be allowed at all, 18% thought it should be actively sought and 5% were undecided.
When asked to comment on whether it is possible to expose doctors to pharmaceutical marketing without influencing their prescribing habits, responses were varied:
“The majority are grown ups who make their own decisions!â€
“No matter how impartial the doctor is there will always be some influence. But I don’t think this will be ultimately harmful to the patient as a good doctor will prescribe what is best for the patient.â€
“Everything must be taken with a grain of salt. Every doctor ought to critically review any information given to them by someone with a bias so obvious as a pharmaceutical rep.â€
“I appreciate food at lunch meetings but it makes no difference who pays for it, I take no notice. I will probably prescribe Lipitor like everyone else because it’s easy to remember and is prob one of the best marketed brands in the world. If Pfizer gave me an ophthalmoscope i would love it but hey, I have a brain and would not feel like I should give back to them with scripts.â€
“I think it influences them when they are prescribing for a patient in which a number of drugs would be suitable, and hence they choose the first one that comes to mind. If a patient has other co-morbidities, doctors weigh pros and cons and choose based on evidence for the patient. But if, for example, a perfectly healthy patient with hypertension needs a first line drug - there are many suitable options - the doctor is going to go with the first one he thinks of. If he is staring at a Coversyl pen all day. I think it can’t help but make a difference.â€
“Drs with more clinical experience are less likely to be influenced. Younger doctors are more likely.â€