Objective: In this follow-up study, we aimed to assess national and international pharmaceutical companies' Web sites using guidelines of The Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (AIFD) and Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Turkey (IEIS) to define whether there has been progress since 2004.
Materials and methods: We used two national guidelines in order to evaluate the Web sites of pharmaceutical companies in our study. The first guideline was from IEIS, and the second was from AIFD, which was issued recently. We collected our data between February 1 and April 30, 2011. Data analyses were performed using SPSS version 15.0. Chi squared test was done for comparing the two assessments in different years (2004 and 2011).
Results: In general, the progress that we were expecting was not satisfactory for both the international and national companies. The percentage of unmet criteria increased for "links" (from 48.0% to 52.0%) and for "mentioning the responsible person/firm for the Web site design" (from 40.6% to 59.4%) among national companies. We observed statistically significant progress only for the "information for the public" criterion (from 52.9% to 100%) among international companies. On the other hand, there was progress and a statistically significant difference in terms of not displaying any "drug ads" on the Web sites of national firms (from 55.9% to 87.5%), availability of "mail address" (from 88.2% to 100%), "telephone number" (from 88.2% to 100%), "indication of the target group" (from 23.5% to 52.1%), and "disclaimer stating the given information cannot replace a physician or pharmacist" (from 29.4% to 53.1%).
Conclusions: Our major recommendation to pharmaceutical companies is to update their Web sites with evidence-based scientific information about themselves and their products using international and national standards. From the companies' perspective, this should be a priority responsibility based on the ethical aspect of individual and community health.