Objective: The aim of the study was to assess the extent of pharmacist participation in pharmaceutical industry-sponsored educational events in Australia.
Methods: A descriptive analysis was performed of 14 649 educational events provided by 43 companies between July and December 2007, using publicly available reports posted on the Medicines Australia website. Pharmacist participation was assessed according to duration and type of event, whether continuing professional education credits were awarded, type of venue, hospitality provided and cost of hospitality.
Key findings: Most of the 14 649 industry-sponsored events reported in this mandatory reporting programme were targeted at doctors (specialists and general practitioners). Pharmacists were present at 621 events (4.2%); 209 events were pharmacist-only events. Of pharmacist-only events, 68% were held in hospitals and professional rooms and 13% in restaurants. In contrast, 32% of events involving doctors were held in restaurants (difference in proportions 18.9%; 95% confidence interval 13.5-22.9%) Sixty-six per cent of pharmacist-only events were 1 h or less in duration; 81% were 2 h or less. Almost 40% were reported as training or in-service activities, generally conducted in hospitals. Only three events had continuing professional education credits assigned. The most common topics discussed were oncology, diabetes, haematology, cardiology and gastroenterology; a specific medicine was mentioned in the descriptor for 23 of the 209 (11%) events. Hospitality provided was generally modest, averaging AU$36.24 per pharmacist across all pharmacist-only events, and lower in hospital (AU$9.21 per head) than those held in restaurants (AU$51.42).
Conclusions: The data from this first report suggest pharmacists were not a major target for industry-funded educational events. Exposure to such events will likely increase as pharmacists take on enhanced prescribing roles and it is important that this is captured under the mandatory disclosure requirements that have been introduced in a number of jurisdictions. It is also desirable that such schemes include generic medicines manufacturers and that pharmacy professional bodies use these data to monitor and manage the level and impact of interactions between pharmacists and industry.