A Mutual Bond: Pharmaceutical Representatives and Doctors in the Philippines. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 017 (1994)
(1994; 2 pages)


Pharmaceutical representatives and doctors in the Philippines maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. The representatives utilize Filipino cultural norms to get doctors to prescribe the drugs they promote. One core social value in the Philippines is that when someone receives a gift, he or she has a “debt of gratitude” that must be paid back. Capitalizing on this principle, representatives will give gifts to doctors, run their errands, pay for dinner and essentially befriend doctors in order to promote prescription of their products. Doctors in the Philippines view relationships with medical representatives as essential to good medicine due to the “help” they receive as a result. Doctors recognize the economic interests of pharmaceutical companies, but still positively value the relationship because the representatives become viewed as friends. In order for there to be an increase in non-commercial drug information, educational campaigns backed by government regulations would be necessary. The ban on samples under the infant formula code is one example of how regulation can improve the ethical promotion of drugs. Similar guidelines would help the Filipino doctors overcome cultural tendencies and refocus prescribing habits on public health concerns rather than social norms.

Abstract written by M. Tobin, 2013.

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