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A cross-sectional analysis of pharmaceutical industry-funded events for health professionals in Australia
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  • Published on:
    Reply to the comment "A sandwich won’t sway a doctor"
    • Alice Fabbri, PhD student Center of Research in Medical Pharmacology, The University of Insubria, Varese, Italy
    • Other Contributors:
      • Quinn Grundy, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
      • Barbara Mintzes, Senior Lecturer
      • Swestika Swandari, Trainer
      • Ray Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow
      • Emily Walkom, Research Academic
      • Lisa Bero, Professor

    We acknowledge of course that the pharmaceutical industry produces many medicines that are an important part of healthcare. However, inappropriate use and overuse of medicines is detrimental to health, and use of an unnecessarily expensive medicine that is no better than a cheaper alternative represents wasteful health care spending.

    Although Mr. Catelin states “It’s ludicrous to suggest that a sandwich and a soda water would sway the opinions of medical practitioners”, the evidence shows otherwise. Among the studies that have examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical industry information or payments and the quality, quantity and cost of prescribing, there is an overwhelming finding of no benefit. (1-4) Pharmaceutical industry payments, even small payments such as a meal, are associated with increased prescriptions of the promoted drug. One US study found a “dose-response effect” on prescribing of cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure drugs and antidepressants, starting with even a single meal costing less than US $20: the more free meals a doctor ate, the more likely they were to prescribe the promoted drug. (2) Another study found that the more payments a doctor received from the industry, the more likely they were to prescribe expensive brand-name drugs rather than less expensive generic equivalents. (4)

    The aim of our study was neither to undermine patients’ confidence nor to call health professionals into disrepute. The aim was...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author). Dr. Mintzes reports that she was an expert witness on behalf of plaintiffs in a Canadian class action suit concerning cardiovascular risks of a testosterone gel. None of the authors received any payments, funding, or other financial support from pharmaceutical manufacturers. The authors declare no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
  • Published on:
    A sandwich won’t sway a doctor

    A sandwich won’t sway a doctor.
    Milton Catelin
    Chief Executive, Medicines Australia

    Pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals collaborate on clinical research, share knowledge and support education to ensure that medicines are constantly improving and are used safely and appropriately by health care professionals and their patients.

    Our members are proud of the work that we do to ensure that the public can continue to have confidence in our local medicines industry. We consider transparency to be a key component of the bond of trust with the Australian public.

    Engagement with pharmaceutical companies is an important and legitimate part of a medical practitioner’s ongoing education; foremost, because patients want to be sure that their doctors know how to use the medicines they’re being prescribed.

    The developers of these medicines are the highest authority on how a medicine works, its interactions with other compounds, its efficacy and other information. It stands to reason that a medical practitioner would consider information from the maker of the medicine when making an informed decision about prescribing a medicine. It’s not however, the only source. Medical practitioners do their own research, network with their peers, consult with other clinical experts, read independent medical journals and receive information from independent bodies such as NPS MedicineWise.

    It’s ludicrous to suggest that a sandwich and a so...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    Medicines Australia, in partnership with our members, drives the creation and development of an environment for the continued sustainable growth of the innovative research based prescription medicines industry. Our members all subscribe to the 18th Edition of the Code of Conduct - Administered by Medicines Australia.