(2004; 102 pages)
Summary of conclusions
Doctors’ attitudes to promotion vary, and do not necessarily match their behaviour. Their opinions differ on the value of sales representatives, on whether they should be banned during medical training and on whether doctors are adequately trained to interact with them.
Most doctors think information from pharmaceutical companies is biased, but many think it is useful. Health professionals find small gifts from drug companies acceptable. Most believe that drug representatives or gifts do not influence them personally, but do influence many colleagues. Few patients know that doctors receive promotional gifts, and so few disapprove.
Doctors who rely on promotion tend to be older, less conservative, see more patients, are general practitioners rather than specialists, have less access to peers and have a more positive attitude towards medicines.
Opinions about DTCA are mixed. Most companies, the advertising industry and the media favour it, while doctors and others (e.g. government, NGOs and health professional organizations) generally oppose it. Consumers and patients are divided: some, especially the less educated, would welcome more information from whatever source, while others distrust commercial bias.