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Are Doctors and Nurses influenced by Pharmaceutical Company industry spending on health professionals?

Are Doctors and Nurses influenced by Pharmaceutical Company industry spending on health professionals?

Here are a couple of 'The Conversation' articles by faculty members of the University of Sydney, Australia, namely Barbara Mintzes, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Pharmacy and Quinn Grundy, Postdoctoral Fellow respectively who look at the evidence and express concerns at what they found:

We can’t trust drug companies to wine, dine and educate doctors about the drugs they prescribe

"Prescrire International, a French independent bulletin, evaluates every new medicine. Over the past ten years, it found that only 7% of 1,035 offered even modest treatment advantages. More than twice as many were less safe or effective than existing options. Most of the rest were no better or worse. (My emphasis)

Doctors get a very different message in drug promotion. Colleagues in Canada, the United States, France and I studied the safety information doctors get from sales representatives. More than 250 doctors participated in the study, reporting on nearly 1,700 drug-specific promotions during sales visits.

Fewer than 2% of promotions included “minimally adequate” information for safe prescribing in any of the three countries."

Invisible influence: why sales reps are forming relationships with nurses

"Globally, countries are adopting regulation that aims to bring transparency to the financial relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical and medical device companies. These relationships are associated with the increased prescription of high-cost, brand-name drugs and devices that often have a limited track record for safety.

However, when policymakers and researchers discuss marketing to health professionals, the relationships between nurses and industry are seldom considered. And these relationships remain almost entirely invisible to the public.


Australia is one of the few countries where payments and gifts to nurses are reported."

You may not think that there's much we can do about this, but perhaps knowing the above can empower you to ask your doctor about alternatives to your currently prescribed medicine.  I've personally been prescribed a drug that I suspected may have been causing a side effect.  When I questioned my specialist about it, he admitted that there was another, older drug that worked equally well (plus it turned out to cost me less).  I switched to the older drug and the side effect went away and I was better off financially!


Photo: Kangaroos at sunset.  Kangaroos are most active around sunrise and sunset and you need to be alert when driving at these times, particularly when passing patches of native scrub.

5 Replies

You should read some of Ben goldacre's work. He's a doctor who used to write a regular piece in the guardian newspaper and has written a few books about "big pharma". Eye opening stuff. In my experience, companies are v good at giving out items with subtle reminders for a product such as pens,  sticky notes, mugs, keyrings. Nurses always need pens and having a pen with a brand name for a drug sends out a subliminal message. In Ireland there are v strict guidelines in relation to formula milk marketing.  They used to supply measuring tapes for babies, calenders and clocks amoung other things. They are now prohibited as they are seen as a means of undermining breast feeding. In addition, I think that drug companies are bring prohibited in some places in relation to their pens and sticky notes. I'm actually going to an information session for health care professionals in a few weeks on Cll which is sponsored by gilead!  I'll report back here if there is a hard sell at it. I disclosed to the organisers that my interest stems from me being a patient rather than my professional credentials and he said I would still be welcome. Maybe they'll offer me a few free doses of idelalisib!!! 


This has been a constant worry as of late.  My 95 year old father has advanced prostate cancer.  He is being passed to another group in the doctor practice that handles the next phase.  I set up the appointment and before even seeing him they were pushing Provenge as the preferred treatment.  I also got a slick package in the mail.  I naturally get suspicious.  I half expect that my father will get a toaster or tv for signing up.  I will play devils advocate in the upcoming appointment.  But I do not stand a chance. 


Hi Neil,

"Tie my kangaroo down sport" have a beautiful interesting country Neil!  Also you have my wheels turning again!  I'm thinking I may be experiencing a "side effect" as well from a RX I am taking and I am going to see if perhaps a change might bring relief.  Glad your RX change worked for you!



Great information Neil.


An important new study in the United States just published in the leading Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine finds that drug companies are buying doctors – for as little as a $16 meal says Ray Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow, Bond University: