My 2014 No Advertising Please campaign, while aimed at all doctors, ended up impacting mainly on GPs. The pledge not to see drug reps is more easily fulfilled when one is in autonomous, private medical practice.
However, it is equally important that prescribers working in hospitals choose their medications on the basis of best evidence rather than marketing.
In today’s Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), I co-author a paper with Monash doctors Dr Jessica Dean and Prof Erwin Loh.
We call for a severing of ties between pharmaceutical sponsorship and hospital-based medical education.
Jessica is former President of the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) which was the first Australian medical organisation to completely remove reliance on pharmaceutical sponsorship.
Jessica points out in the accompanying MJA video (*warning – a little long!) that modern med students are now well versed in avoiding pharma influence during training, and therefore tend to get a surprise when they enter the hospital system as professionals and suddenly note the number of sponsored lunchtime meetings.
Our full article is available on the MJA website here.
This is the summary:
- Despite recent changes in attitudes, most hospitals continue to experience pharmaceutical industry presence.
- Pharmaceutical industry presence may be necessary and beneficial in the context of sponsorship of clinical trials with appropriate governance.
- Doctors continue to hold positive attitudes towards market-oriented activities of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
- Despite evidence to the contrary, doctors believe they are able to effectively manage pharmaceutical sales representative interactions such that their own prescribing is not adversely impacted.
- Doctors also share a belief that small gifts and benefits are harmless.
- There may be significant financial burden associated with divestment of such sponsorship by hospitals.
- Change requires education and effective policies to manage pharmaceutical industry relationships and conflicts of interest.
- We discuss case studies involving students and public hospital doctors to show that divestment is possible without significant financial detriment.
- Health services need to be proactive in transitioning financial and cultural reliance on pharmaceutical industry sponsorship to other potentially less harmful sources.