In case you have been in hibernation for the last couple of years trust between physicians and drug companies is, to say the least, strained. Often physicians, when presented with clinical trial information from drug companies, go to the internet and colleagues to to ensure what drug reps are telling them is in fact true. To suggest that physicians prescribe a product because of drug company marketing is, in most cases, just wrong.
According to a study in the NEJM “Physicians reported that they would be less willing to prescribe drugs tested in low-rigor trials than those tested in medium-rigor trials (odds ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.89; P=0.008) and would be more willing to prescribe drugs tested in high-rigor trials than those tested in medium-rigor trials (odds ratio, 3.07; 95% CI, 2.18 to 4.32; P<0.001). Disclosure of industry funding, as compared with no disclosure of funding, led physicians to downgrade the rigor of a trial (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.87; P=0.006), their confidence in the results (odds ratio, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.51 to 0.98; P=0.04), and their willingness to prescribe the hypothetical drugs (odds ratio, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.94; P=0.02). Physicians were half as willing to prescribe drugs studied in industry-funded trials as they were to prescribe drugs studied in NIH-funded trials (odds ratio, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.37 to 0.71; P<0.001). These effects were consistent across all levels of methodologic rigor.”
In other words physicians are challenging drug company sponsored studies and will prescribe what they feel is best for patients. Let’s also remember that even insurers are asking for “proof” that branded drugs are better than generic drugs today. The idea that a physician is going to prescribe a drug to a patient because of a pitch from a drug rep is nothing short of ludicrous even though at the recent ePharma conference there were some who said “the drug industry has it wrong when working with physicians”.