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Drug promotional literatures: Educative or misleading for young medical graduates and students?

Abdullahi Rabiu Abubakar, Shabbir Ahmad Sheikh, Mainul Haque.

Background: Drug promotion (DP) in hospitals is growing considerably. High level of competition exists among pharmaceutical companies in the quest for the prescription. However, a large number of medical representatives promote their drugs in an unethical way, which may pose challenges to the physicians for the rational selection of drug, especially young graduates and medical students. DP is carried out mainly through the use of drug promotional literatures (DPLs), which if not regulated may cause harm to the patient and enormous loss of resources from the wrong choice of medication, drug interactions, or adverse drug reactions (ADRs) due to inadequate or misleading information.

Aims and Objective: This study aimed at evaluating the DPLs based on as per WHO criteria 1988.

Materials and Methods: A total of 235 DPLs were collected from different public and private hospitals of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. One hundred and forty DLPs that met the inclusion criteria were evaluated according to WHO criteria.

Result: Among the 140 DPLs, 58.6% presented single-dose medications and 41.4% presented fixed-dose combinations. However, only 49.3% literatures stated the side effects and major ADRs; only 45% gave precaution, contraindications, and warnings, and only 25% provided the major interactions. In addition, 32.9% literatures made the false claim and catchy statement and 40.7% presented irrelevant pictures. In contrast, 55.7% showed relevant charts and 52.1% had relevant tables.

Conclusion: The research finding has shown that none of the DPLs has fulfilled the WHO criteria. They also contain false claim and catchy statement. Henceforth, drug regulatory agencies must work proactively to ensure compliance by drug companies. Therefore, both physicians and medical students require skills on how to evaluate DPLs.

Key words: Drug Promotional Literatures; Pharmaceutical Companies; Medical Representatives; Prescribers; Information

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Journal of Contemporary Medical Education


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