Physicians should take a stand against pharmaceutical promotions

LETTER — Posted Oct. 23, 2006

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When is the medical profession going to wake up to the fact that pharmaceutical promotions and television drug advertising might be decreasing the quality of care our patients receive?

Drug companies would not be promoting new expensive drugs to us or running ads on TV if they were not convinced that they would benefit. They believe that more prescriptions will be written for their products, and fewer written for generics or other less costly alternatives. This applies both to sales pitches by pharmaceutical representatives and to television ads. When pharmaceutical representatives ask if they can count on me to prescribe their medication, they are asking me to compromise medical ethics.

This drives up the cost of medical care, making it more difficult for the uninsured.

Also, when a physician has to spend time answering questions from patients about TV ads, this decreases the time available to deal with medical diagnosis, treatment and real patient education.

Nothing good comes out of drug promotions or television ads. When will the medical profession realize this and take a stand?

David C. Morris, MD, West Columbia, S.C.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/10/23/edlt1023.htm.

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