Objectives: To obtain the attitudes of a sample of General Practitioners to their interactions with pharmaceutical companies.
Design: Semi-structured face to face interviews.
Setting: General Practices in the north-west of Ireland.
Results: General Practitioners do not value their interactions with pharmaceutical representatives. They regard it as promotional, not educational activity and believe they are presented with biased information. Positive aspects (social, and receiving information) do not compensate. The content of educational meetings should be decided by G.Ps. alone. More directly promotional meetings are valued less, except when fairly lavish, in which case they are harder to resist. Material received through the post is not valued at all by G.Ps.
Conclusions: Pharmaceutical companies in Ireland have a good relationship with G.Ps. It is in jeopardy. To rescue it, companies need to provide G.Ps. with assistance (information and other types) which is directly helpful to G.Ps. caring for their patients. Companies need to row back on the deluge of promotional material that G.Ps. are faced with. G.Ps. need to be trained to learn how to demand more helpful material from companies, and to refuse the promotional tidal wave.