Research Article: Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians’ Prescribing: A Systematic Review

Date Published: October 19, 2010

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Geoffrey K. Spurling, Peter R. Mansfield, Brett D. Montgomery, Joel Lexchin, Jenny Doust, Noordin Othman, Agnes I. Vitry, David Henry

Abstract: Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.

Partial Text: Pharmaceutical companies in the United States spent about US$57.5 billion, or 24.4% of their revenue, on promotion in 2004 [1]. One estimate of total promotional expenditure in France for 2004 is €2,908 million (12.2% of revenue). However, another estimate is that pharmaceutical detailing cost €3,300 million and accounted for 75% of the overall cost of promotion in that year making promotion 17.3% of revenue [2]. Expenditure on promotion is aimed at maximizing returns for the corporation and shareholders [3]. The industry claims that promotion also provides scientific and educational information to healthcare professionals: “Appropriate marketing of medicines ensures that patients have access to the products they need and that the products are used correctly for maximum patient benefit. Our relationships with healthcare professionals are critical to achieving these goals because they enable us to – inform healthcare professionals about the benefits and risks of our products to help advance appropriate patient use, provide scientific and educational information, support medical research and education” [4].