Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Still Influences Prescribing
The pressure has always been on healthcare providers this century to treat patients more like healthcare consumers. This fact has not been lost on Pharma and its marketing strategies. Sure, the industry’s use of interminably long television spots and full multi-page advertising supplements in magazines — no to mention a barrage of online content — has long been exploited at the expense of what is probably best meant for the patient within the provider-patient dyad; but there are no signs that this trend will abate any time soon.
The researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston analyzed data from a survey of 1,891 doctors in 2009 and found that 37 percent of doctors admitted to sometimes prescribing a brand-name drug at a patient’s request even though a generic version of the medication was available. They also found that doctors who had received free food and beverages from a drugmaker were more likely to give in to such patient demands.
Many health systems have all but abandoned drug detailing by Pharma, but the practice does still continue, especially in tertiary care arenas that train resident physicians. Although physicians knowingly scoff at the mention of the influence of such methods of their prescribing patterns, the researchers in this trial say that the practice does have an impact.
Internists and psychiatrists were the most likely to prescribe the brand-name drugs. Several other specialties, including pediatrics, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, and general surgery, were significantly lower. Although his research did not address the variation among the medical specialties, [the lead author] believes the difference may be due to the diseases each specialty sees and the availability of new drugs used to treat them.
I personally cannot remember the last time I spoke to a pharmaceutical rep, much less “benefited” from one. Although the piece does say there is more of a negative trend toward detailing influencing prescribing among younger physicians, older physicians are more likely to be indirectly affected — citing the acknowledging of treatment resources as being less acute in physicians completing post graduate training well before the turn of the 21st century.
Michael L. Douglas, MD, MBA is the editor and proprietor of Doctor Pundit, one of the blogosphere's leading physician blogs and healthcare policy blogs. He is a geriatrician and board-certified family physician who serves as the clinical director of long term care services at the Saint Peter (MN) Regional Treatment Center, the state's inpatient forensic psychiatric facility. Dr. Douglas is ...