Objective: Our objective was to study the attitudes of Canadian physicians toward product presentations by pharmaceutical representatives (PRs), the use of inducements by the pharmaceutical industry, and methods to improve the quality of prescribing information provided to physicians.
Design: We used a mailed survey.
Participants: A random sample of 550 Canadian physicians in all settings was chosen.
Outcome measures: The main outcome measure was the proportion of respondents agreeing with a series of statements.
Results: The response rate was 262 of 525 deliverable surveys (50 per cent). Respondents had a mean of 4.2 interactions per week with PRs. Of the 262 respondents (5.8 per cent of data were incomplete), 193 (80 per cent) believed that PRs overemphasize their products' effectiveness, 108 (45 per cent) thought PRs do not present fairly the drugs' negative aspects, and 223 (92 per cent) felt that PRs have production promotion as a goal. Most, 175 (70 per cent), believe that drug-detailing affects physicians' prescribing behavior. Most, 210 (86 per cent), considered drug samples acceptable, but fewer agreed that other inducements were acceptable. Of the respondents, 183 (74 per cent) agreed that PRs should be required to use guidelines for standardized, comprehensive drug-detailing, and 165 (65 per cent) agreed that face-to-face drug-detailing by PRs using standardized guidelines would be an effective way to receive information.
Conclusions: There is dissatisfaction among Canadian physicians about the quality of information provided by the pharmaceutical industry. Standardized, comprehensive guidelines would be accepted by physicians as one improvement.