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Why You Should Care

But why should you care? How much damage could a pen or free lunch do?

Here are 7 reasons you should search for the phacts:

1)  Drug companies spend an average of 35% of sales on promotion.[1]

2)  In Australia, spending on drug promotion to doctors amounts to between $ 1.3 billion to $ 2.0 billion per year. Would pharmaceutical companies spend such massive amounts on promotion to docotrs if it were not effective at influencing prescribing habits?

3) Promotion influences prescribing habits more than most health professionals realise. [2‐6]

4) Many advertisements and statements from pharmaceutical representatives are misleading.[7,8]

5) Promotion which exaggerates benefits and glosses over risks threatens optimal treatment.

6) Reliance on promotional information may endanger lives and expose prescribers to the risk of litigation.[9]

7) Thirteen observational studies have found, that exposure to pharmaceucal promotion and doctors’ positive attitudes towards pharmaceutical promotion both correlate with harmful use of pharmaceuticals.[10‐23]


1. Devlin J, Hemsley P. Management views on industry issues, pressures and consultants. Scrip Magazine. 1997 June 16-183.
2. Caudill TS, Johnson MS, Rich EC, McKinney P. Physicians, pharmaceutical sales representatives and the cost of prescribing. Arch Fam Med 1996; 5:201-6
3. Orlowski JP, Wateska L. The effects of pharmaceutical firm enticements on physician prescribing patterns: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Chest 1992;102:270-73
4. Waud DR. Pharmaceutical promotions. New Engl J Med 1992;327:23:1688
5. Chren M-M, Landefeld CS. Physicians’ behaviour and their interactions with drug companies: A controlled study of physicians who requested additions to a hospital drug formulary. JAMA 1994;271:9:684-9
7. Wilkes MS, Doblin BH, Shapiro MF. Pharmaceutical advertisements in leading medical journals: Experts’ assessments. Ann Int Med 1992;116:912-919
8. Roughead EE. The pharmaceutical representative and medical practitioner encounter: implications for quality use of medicines. Masters Thesis. School of Health Systems Sciences. La Trobe University. Aug 1995 Link to full text of this thesis
9. Aders HP. Legal liability and drug prescribing. Cur Therap 1991;32:6:17-21
10. Becker MH, Stolley PD, Lasagna L, McEvilla JD, Sloane LM. Differential education concerning therapeutics and resultant physician prescribing patterns. J Med Educ 1972;47:118-27.
11. Linn LS, Davis MS. Physicians’ orientation toward the legitimacy of drug use and their preferred source of new drug information. Soc Sci Med 1972;6:199-203.
12. Mapes R. Aspects of British general practitioners’ prescribing. Med Care 1977;15:371-81
13. Haayer F. Rational prescribing and sources of information. Soc Sci Med 1982;16:2017-23.
14. Ferry ME, Lamy PP, Becker LA. Physicians’ knowledge of prescribing for the elderly: a study of primary care physicians in Pennsylvania. J Am Geriatr Soc 1985; 33:616-21.
15. Blondeel L, Cannoodt L, DeMeyeere M, Proesmans H. Prescription behaviour of 358 Flemish general practitioners. Paper presented at the International Society of General Medicine meeting, Prague, Spring 1987.
16. Bower AD, Burkett GL. Family physicians and generic drugs: a study of recognition, information sources, prescribing attitudes, and practices. J Fam Pract 1987;24:612-6.
17. Cormack MA, Howells E. Factors linked to the prescribing of benzodiazepines by general practice principals and trainees. Family Practice 1992;9:466-71.
18. Berings D, Blondeel L, Habraken H. The effect of industry-independent drug information on the prescribing of benzodiazepines in general practice. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1994;46:501-505.
19. Caudill TS, Johnson MS, Rich EC, McKinney WP. Physicians, pharmaceutical sales representatives, and the cost of prescribing. Arch Fam Med 1996;5:201-6.
20. Powers R. Time with drug reps affects prescribing. Paper presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine meeting, 1998
21. Mansfield PR, Lexchin J. Scepticism and beliefs about new drugs. Healthy Skepticism International News 2001;19:1/6
22. Caamano, F.; Figueiras, A., and Gestal-Otero, J. J. Influence of commercial information on prescription quantity in primary care. Eur J Public Health. 2002 Sep; 12(3):187-91.
23. Watkins, C. Harvey, I. Carthy, P. Moore, L. Robinson, E. Brawn, R. Attitudes and behaviour of general practitioners and their prescribing costs a national cross sectional survey. Qual Saf Health Care. 2003 Feb; 12(1)29-34.





Pharma Phacts are a medical student group committed to raising awareness about pharmaceutical companies and their interactions with medical students.