Objective: To provide quantitative data about the accuracy of the information about drugs presented to physicians by pharmaceutical sales representatives.
Design: One hundred six statements about drugs made during 13 presentations by pharmaceutical representatives were analyzed for accuracy. Statements were rated inaccurate if they contradicted the 1993 Physicians' Desk Reference or material quoted or handed out by the sales representative.
Setting: University teaching hospital.
Results: Twelve (11%) of 106 statements about drugs were inaccurate. All 12 inaccurate statements were favorable toward the promoted drug, whereas 39 (49%) of 79 accurate statements were favorable (P = .005). None of 15 statements about competitors' drugs were favorable, but all were accurate, significantly P < .001) differing from statements about promoted drugs. In a survey of 27 physicians who attended these presentations, seven (26%) recalled any false statement made by a pharmaceutical representative, and 10 (37%) said information from the representatives influenced the way they prescribed drugs.
Conclusions: Eleven percent of the statements made by pharmaceutical representatives about drugs contradicted information readily available to them. Physicians generally failed to recognize the inaccurate statements.