‘GPs rely on drug reps for info’ – is anyone surprised?

Choice has just published a survey saying that Australian general practitioners are reliant on pharmaceutical reps for much of the information they learn about new treatments, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“Even though only 24 per cent of doctors trusted the information as much as an independent source, most (81 per cent) would rather receive it because it was often the only way to get timely information on new drugs,” the SMH reports.

“The survey of 180 doctors found that 73 per cent referred to pharmaceutical companies or their representatives for drug information. This made the companies the second-most important source for doctors after clinical evidence.

“Drug companies are the main source of information for 16 per cent of doctors when deciding whether to prescribe a new drug, the survey said.

“‘[Drug company marketing is] often the only way you get information about new drugs in a timely fashion,'” one doctor said.”

Unlike most media reports, which paint pharma companies as worse than tobacco companies, this report stresses that the main reason GPs rely so heavily on pharma companies is the lack of independent information available. Although there may be a difference between “lack of information” and “lack of knowledge of information”, as half of the GPs surveyed said they were not aware of the government-funded National Prescribing Service (NPS). Hmmm, maybe the government needs a national field force armed with brochures, pens and Post-it notes…