A global list of pharmacy and medical schools was developed based on relevant Internet sites as well as information supplied by the World Health Organization (WHO). Deans of these institutions were contacted from July to December 2004 to ask whether or not the institutions were educating students about drug promotion (e.g. critical evaluation and responses to promotion); if so, contact information for educators was requested. Additionally, notices were placed on e-mail listserves with a focus on pharmaceutical policy or drug promotion.
A more detailed questionnaire was sent to educators between January and April 2005. The questionnaire covered the following issues: amount of time spent on this type of education, placement in the curriculum, types of promotional activities, regulatory and ethical issues covered, educational techniques, materials developed, evaluation, judgment of success and identification of barriers to success. English, French and Spanish versions of the questionnaire were produced. Non-respondents received up to two follow-up questionnaires at 10-day intervals. Replies were included if they reported educating medical or pharmacy students about responses to any aspect of drug promotion. Those only reporting education about how to promote products, for example training for sales representatives, were excluded. The analysis of results is descriptive. Responses were classified by health profession (pharmacy or medicine) and by location within a WHO region. Exploratory chi square analysis was carried out to identify potential differences between pharmacy and medical faculty responses, using EpiInfo 2000. These differences should be interpreted as generating hypotheses for further study.