Research Article: Soft Targets: Nurses and the Pharmaceutical Industry

Date Published: February 5, 2008

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Annemarie Jutel, David B Menkes

Abstract: The nursing literature has yet to pay much attention to the expansive reach of the pharmaceutical industry into the nursing profession.

Partial Text: “Our Special Projects Division produces a wide portfolio of therapy and topic-specific materials…available for sponsorship by companies who wish to promote their products or services, while visibly supporting nurse education,” [1] invites Nursing Standard, the journal of the United Kingdom Royal College of Nursing.

We searched MedLine ( and CINAHL ( databases without date restriction in May 2007, using the terms “pharmaceutical industry,” “drug sales,” “direct-to-consumer,” and “pharmaceutic*,” and restricted to nursing journals. We searched the same terms without the nursing journal restriction, combined with the truncated search terms “nurs*” and prescri*.” A search combining the term “nurs*” with “gift,” a hand search, and references from colleagues completed our research.

Nursing education fails to prepare graduates to deal with pharmaceutical promotion. From the scant empirical work available, many nurses would appear to accept promotional material uncritically. Nurses, just like doctors, might benefit from understanding marketing and persuasion [51].

The pharmaceutical industry recognises nursing influence on medical prescribing and identifies nurses as a marketing target. The industry has had its eye on nurses and nurse practitioners for over a decade [64], and is heavily invested in wooing them [65]. Unfortunately, its success in this area has been at the expense of the health budget, evidence-based care, and nursing integrity. All three can and must be reclaimed.



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