Health professionals should be trained to be wary of pharmaceutical promotion

An influential group of advocacy organizations has published a set of four recommendations for improving education for health professionals about pharmaceutical and device promotion.

The organizations--the American Medical Student Association, Healthy Skepticism Inc, No Free Lunch, and PharmAware--say that "misleading promotion can be a major threat to health." They give the example of the marketing campaign for hormone replacement therapy for preventing cardiovascular disease, which led to huge drug sales even before a single clinical trial with cardiovascular disease end points had ever been done.

In the hope of reducing the adverse influence of pharmaceutical promotion on health professionals, the organizations recommend that health professionals should be:

  • Educated explicitly about decision making and evaluation of evidence and promotion.
  • Helped to understand that there is no proven method for enabling them to gain more benefit than harm from promotion.
  • Helped to understand their responsibility to avoid pharmaceutical and device promotion.
  • Educated explicitly about the most reliable sources of information.

The authors conclude: "Our hypothesis--that implementing our recommendations will lead to improved health-care outcomes and earn increased public trust in the ability of health professionals to provide optimal treatment--deserves to be tested."

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Citation: Mansfield PR, Lexchin J, Wen LS, Grandori L, McCoy CP, et al. (2006) Educating health professionals about drug and device promotion: Advocates' recommendations. PLoS Med 3(11): e451.

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CONTACT:
Peter Mansfield
Healthy Skepticism Inc
34 Methodist St
Willunga, SA 5172 Australia
+61 8 8557 1040
+61 8 8557 1040 (fax)

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