Unhealthy marketing of pharmaceutical products: An international public health concern

J Public Health Policy. 2016 May;37(2):149-59. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2016.6. Epub 2016 Feb 25.


I consider the current state of pharmaceutical marketing vis-à-vis ethical and legal standards and advocate measures to improve it. There is abundant evidence of unethical or illicit marketing. It fuels growing concerns about undue corporate influence over pharmaceutical research, education, and consumption. The most extensive evidence of industry transgressions comes from the United States (US), where whistle-blowers are encouraged by financial rewards to help uncover illicit marketing and fraud. Outside the US increasing evidence of transgressions exists. Recently I have observed a range of new measures to align pharmaceutical marketing practices with ethical and legal standards. In the interest of public health, I highlight the need for additional and more profound reforms to ensure that information about medicines supports quality and resource-efficient care.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Fraud
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Marketing / ethics*
  • Public Health