Background: Doctors are the main prescribers of medication for the patients. There are many factors that affect prescribing behaviour such as pharmaceutical promotions.
Aims & Objective: To assess drug representatives influence on physicians prescription, to assess physicians attitudes toward drug representative and to study other factors that may affect the prescribing behaviour of physicians.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 275 GPs & family physicians working in all primary care centers in KAMC in Central Region in 2011-2012. A self-administered structured questionnaire was used. The questionnaire included questions regarding socio-demographics, clinic work load for physicians, factors influencing prescribing of a new drug including gifts offered by drug representatives, reference sources used for prescribing, CME hour characteristics and sponsorships by drug representatives and physician beliefs about impact of pharmaceutical promotions on prescribing.
Results: Of the physicians, 204 filled the questionnaire (response rate 74.2%), nearly 72 % were non-Saudi, 71.6% were staff physicians, and 59.8% had more than 10 years of practice. Guidelines updating and drug characteristics were the most important factors influencing physicians prescription of a new drug (97.5%, 96.6%) while the least factor influencing their prescribing was drug representatives (41.0%). The most frequent resources used by physicians in case of any problems in prescribing process were textbooks e.g. BNF or MIMS (52.5%), Micromedix (44.7%). According to self-report of physicians, their prescribing behaviours were not affected by visits of drug representatives (43.6 %) while some of them (41.7%) stated that may be they were affected. Over 61% of physicians however believed that other physicians´ prescribing pattern was sometimes affected by drug representatives influence. There was no correlation between sponsored lectures and influence of prescribing behaviours (p-value 0.914). Although the physicians accepted gifts, drug representatives do not influence their prescription of a new drug.
Conclusion: A minority of physicians was partially influenced by drug representative promotions affecting their prescribing patterns. Most of the doctors were not affected by gifts or drug related information given by the representatives. Majority of physicians relied on latest guidelines from medical literature and other standard references in writing prescriptions.
Key words: Pharmaceutical; Drug Prescription; Physician; Promotion; Impact; Drug Representative; Prescribing Behaviour