Background: The promotional activities by medical representatives (MRs) of the pharmaceutical companies can impact the prescribing pattern of doctors. Hence, the interaction between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Objective: The primary objective was to assess the attitude of the doctors toward the interaction with the MRs of the pharmaceutical company. The secondary objective was to assess the awareness of the doctors about regulations governing their interaction with the pharmaceutical company.
Materials and methods: This was a cross-sectional study. This study was carried out using a pretested questionnaire containing 10 questions between June and September 2014. The doctors working in the Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Medical College and Hospital, Perambalur (Tamil Nadu) during the study period was included.
Results: A total of 100 pretested questionnaires were distributed, and 81 doctors responded (response rate 81%). 37% doctors responded that they interacted with MR once a week whereas 25.9% told that they interact with MRs twice a month. About 69.1% doctors think that MR exaggerate the benefits of medicines and downplays the risks and contraindications of medicine(P = 0.000). 61.7% doctors think that MR has an impact on their prescribing (P = 0.000). 63% doctors stated that they had received promotional tools such as stationery items, drug sample, textbooks or journal reprints from MR in last 12 months (P = 0.0012). Unfortunately, 70.4% doctors have not read the guidelines about interacting with the pharmaceutical industry or its representative (P = 0.000).
Conclusion: Rather than forbidding any connection between doctors and industry, it is better to establish ethical guidelines. The Medical Council of India code is a step in the right direction, but the majority of doctors in this study have not read the guidelines about interacting with the pharmaceutical industry or its representative.
Keywords: Code of ethics; Medical Council of India guidelines; doctors; drug samples; pharmaceutical industry; prescribing pattern; unethical marketing.