Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the provision of medicines information in medical journal advertising in Australia,
Malaysia and the United States.
Methods: A consecutive sample of 85 unique advertisements from each country was selected from the advertisements published
between January 2004 to December 2006 in three widely circulated medical journals and one prescribing reference manual. The
availability of brand name and generic name, indication, contraindications, dosage, side-effects, warnings, interactions and precautions
was compared between the three countries.
Results: We examined 255 distinct advertisements for 136 pharmaceutical products. Journal advertising in Australia, Malaysia and
the US usually provided brand names and generic names (range 96 -100%). Information on dosage was significantly less likely to be
mentioned (32%) in the US than in Australia (92%) and Malaysia (48%) (P < 0.001). Warning information was significantly less likely
to be provided in Australia (5%) than in the US (81%) and Malaysia (9%) (P < 0.001). Apart from information on brand name, generic
name, warnings and dosage, other product information significantly less likely to be provided in journal advertising in Malaysia than
in Australia and the US (P < 0.001). Similar trends in the provision of product information for the same medicines published in these
countries were noted. Brand name and generic name were always provided in the three countries (100%). However, information on
the negative effects of medicines was less frequently provided in Malaysia than in Australia and the US.
Conclusions: Journal advertising in Australia, Malaysia and the US failed to provide complete product information. Low quality of
information provided in Malaysia indicates the need for effective regulation of provision of medicines information in journal advertising.
Different standards of medicines information provided in these three countries suggest that pharmaceutical promotion needs to be
better controlled at the international level.