Physicians are not given enough information about the adverse effects of drugs during presentations made by medical sales representatives from pharmaceutical companies, a new international study has found.
Even so, physicians are willing to prescribe at least some of the presented drugs, according to the study of 255 doctors practicing in Vancouver, Montreal, Sacramento, and Toulouse.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, noted prescription drugs play a major part in the therapeutic care of the patient, but can also have adverse effects on the patient's health.
Several studies have shown that the information provided by the medical sales reps strongly influence a doctor's decision to prescribe a new drug, often without the physician being fully aware of the side effects.
For the new study, about 250 physicians agreed to fill out questionnaires asking about how new drugs were promoted by sales reps, including details on benefits and risks, and whether they were given free medication samples and invited to events. The researchers also gathered information about 1692 drugs promoted by medical sales reps between May 2009 and June 2010.
The results showed the information provided by the medical sales reps concentrated on the benefits of the drugs more often than on risks. In more than half of drug pitches, sales rep did not mention any adverse effects at all and "serious" side effects of drugs were only mentioned in 6 percent of the sales promotions.
Yet two-thirds of physicians in the study acknowledged that the sales presentation would encourage them to prescribe a promoted product, and would "probably" or "very probably" lead them to prescribe the drug more often.
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