Drug companies continue to bombard GPs with promotional materials and inducements – despite a strengthened code of practice in the pharmaceutical industry, says Which? today.
In a survey of 200 GPs, Which? found they receive, on average, four visits per month from drug reps and five promotional mailings about new drugs every week.
One in four GPs were sponsored to attend a conference, seminar or training event in the UK in the last 12 months and five per cent were sponsored to attend an event abroad.
In just one month, one GP was offered nine conference places and 13 meals, and received nine visits from drug reps, ten letters, 21 leaflets, two patient information booklets and one training DVD. This amounted to 22 companies contacting her about 31 drugs.
Lack of independent information is a problem – only seven per cent of those surveyed agreed that they trust the information they receive from drug companies as much as independent sources, but 48 per cent agree there aren’t enough sources of independent information available.
Drug company funding can be a vital resource for patient groups, but Which? has found that not all drug companies or patient groups are open about the extent of funding and what it is used for, which makes it very difficult for consumers to get a clear picture.
Which Editor Neil Fowler said: ‘When you get a prescription from your GP, you want to know you’ve been prescribed the right drugs, not drugs produced by the company that spent a lot of money on promotion and inducements.
‘We want to see more sources of independent information on drugs so that GPs can make balanced decisions, more limits on the marketing of drugs, and transparency about funding.’