Pharma-Physician Interactions Perceived Positively

According to a survey released last week, nearly eight out of 10 physicians view pharmaceutical research companies and their sales representatives as useful sources of information on prescription medicines.

That’s good news for pharmaceutical marketers who spent $24 billion between October 2009 and September 2010 on physician-targeted promotional spending, and an additional $1 billion on continuing medical education.

The telephone survey of more than 500 American Medical Association members found that physicians consider a range of sources useful for staying informed about medicines. In addition to sales reps and company-sponsored peer education programs, doctors also rated continuing medical education (CME) courses, peer-reviewed medical journals, and their fellow physicians as useful sources of information.

The survey also found that physicians consider a broad range of factors in making their prescribing decisions, with almost all respondents relying on their clinical knowledge and experience as well as a patient’s response to a particular medicine. More than 80% reported that they take into consideration a patient’s insurance factors, such as formulary and prior authorization requirements, with just under 70% using information provided by pharmaceutical company representatives

The survey, which was supported by PhRMA, also looked closely at how physician respondents view their interactions with pharmaceutical company representatives.

More than 90% responded that interactions with representatives allow them to learn about new indications for approved medicines, potential side effects of medicines, and both emerging benefits and risks of medicines.  In addition, 84% of physicians said that interactions with representatives allow them the opportunity to provide feedback to a pharmaceutical company about their experiences with a specific medicine.  Large majorities also found information from company representatives to be up-to-date and timely (94 %), useful (92%), and reliable (84%).

The survey also included several questions about company-sponsored peer education programs, in which physicians present to their peers. Nearly 9 out of 10 of physicians who reported attending these programs said the information was up-to-date, useful and reliable.

Physicians attending peer education programs reported gaining a range of information, including: improved clinical knowledge (98%), potential side effects of medicines (97% ), new uses of medicines (97%), the range of treatment options (97%), and emerging drug risks (95%). Importantly, 94% said the programs strengthened their ability to care for patients.

Peer education programs allow physicians to have important dialogues with their expert colleagues. This sharing of information ultimately benefits the patients they treat,” said PhRMA’s John Castellani.

SRxA and its team of independent Clinical Advisors specializes in providing support to the pharmaceutical industry and has developed a number of highly successful and unique peer-to-peer education programs. For more information, contact us today.

Infectious Disease Guidelines: A Matter of Opinion!

In recent years, a deluge of publications addressing nearly every aspect of patient care has enhanced clinical decision making, However, some feel it may also have encumbered it, owing to the tremendous volume of new and often conflicting information.

Clinical practice guidelines were developed to aid clinicians in improving patient outcomes and streamlining health care delivery by analyzing and summarizing data from all relevant publications. Lately, these guidelines have also been used as tools for educational purposes, performance measures and policy making. They are also meant to assist in the delivery of patient care. Not surprising then, that both physicians and patients assume that following such guidelines means practicing evidence-based medicine.

However, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than half of recommendations included in infectious disease guidelines rely on low-quality evidence.

Researchers examined 41 guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) since 1994. Of the 4200 recommendations in those guidelines, only 14% were guided by randomized controlled trials (level I evidence) while 55% were supported by expert opinions only (level III evidence).

Five guidelines were updated during the study period. In these updates, the number of recommendations increased between 20% and 400%, but only two updates saw an increase in the number of recommendations based on high-quality evidence.

An accompanying editorial advises physicians to be wary of falling into the trap of ‘cookbook medicine.’ “Guidelines may provide a starting point for searching for information, but they are not the finish line.” said John H. Powers, MD of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Ultimately, the existence of guidelines is probably better than no guidelines, but clearly guidelines should never replace critical thinking in patient care and physicians should avoid  using guidelines as their only source when making clinical decisions.

For better critical thinking or to discuss the development of true evidence based guidelines for your brand, contact SRxA today. Learn how our teams of expert Advisors in Allergy, Pulmonology, ENT, Ocular Medicine and Surgery, Aesthetics, Reproductive Medicine and Behavioral Health can help you and your brand.