Purpose: The physician-pharmaceutical industry relationship has come under increasing scrutiny. Little guidance exists concerning how smaller practices should manage this relationship.In 2006, Madras Medical Group, a small family practice in rural Oregon, implemented a policy prohibiting visits from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and the acceptance of drug samples. This qualitative study documents the attitudes of clinic personnel in response to this policy.
Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted using standardized questions related to 4 areas of policy perception: verification of policy decision, impact on clinic operations,influence of pharmaceutical industry, and lessons to share. Common themes were identified.
Results: Three physicians and 3 nurses participated in the study. There was consensus on the existence and effectiveness of the clinic policy. Key themes identified from both groups of interviewees included the perception of enhanced clinic operation after eliminating interruptions from pharmaceutical representatives, positive response from the public, and reduced diversion of samples for personal use. Clinicians interviewed agreed that samples were of questionable benefit,that information obtained from industry representatives was incomplete or of questionable veracity or objectivity, and that it was helpful to substitute other drug information sources and clinic-sponsored lunches for past industry offerings.
Conclusion: In this case study, a policy prohibiting pharmaceutical representatives from a small family practice was well accepted and a source of pride among physicians and nurses. Other clinics wishing to enact a similar policy may wish to supplement their efforts by proactively using other sources of drug information.