The modern medicine market has created situation when many doctors, especially family doctors, find out about new medications through the corporate sales representatives of the pharmaceutical companies.
Of course, the information that the agents provide to the health professionals either in person, via phone calls or through on-line means of communication is not always aimed to be precisely accurate.
Moreover, often the representatives themselves are not informed well enough or have been given precarious data.
According to the study of Dr. Joel Lexchin from York University in Toronto and his co-authors, 66% of doctors surveyed in Vacouver and Montreal said that the rep's did not provide essential information on the potential side-effects and other precautions.
In the study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 255 American, Canadian and French physicians were questioned about 1,692 particular drugs promotions.
"Physicians were rarely informed about serious adverse events, raising questions about whether current approaches to regulation of sales representatives adequately protect patient health," Dr. Lexchin said.
Only in 6% cases, doctors received sufficient information on grave side-effects associated with a drug, although half of the medications involved in the study were issued the strongest type of warning by Health Canada Issues.
Dr.Lexchin thinks that patients should be actively interested in this type of information and request it from their doctors.
He also mentioned several neutral sources of data on drugs:
Australian Prescriber - free.
UK's Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin - subscription.
Canada's Therapeutics Letter - free.
Prescrire International (translation of the French bulletin La revue Prescrire) - subscription.
The Medical Letter (U.S.) - subscription.
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