Consumers have few concerns about how Rx cos. market to docs

April 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

A majority of adult Americans trust their doctors to choose the best drugs for them.

A majority (67%) of adult Americans trust their doctors to choose the best drugs for them, despite the influence that drug marketers may have on physicians' decision-making, according to a poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal Online and Rochester, NY-based Harris Interactive. The poll was conducted online among a nationwide cross section of 4,173 adults aged 18 and over.

Key findings

The poll, which measured the public's opinion toward pharmaceutical companies' marketing of drugs to physicians, found that:

•Â A quarter (23%) of those surveyed said their doctor may be too influenced by the pharmaceutical companies' marketing efforts, while 67% trust their doctor to decide on the best drugs to use.

•Â One-fourth (25%) said they think pharmaceutical companies are much too aggressive, and 30% said the companies are a little too aggressive in their marketing of drugs to doctors. Another quarter (26%) of respondents feel drug marketing by pharmaceutical companies is acceptable and reasonable.

•Â Sixty-four percent of respondents feel that doctors should decide for themselves whether or not to meet with pharmaceutical companies to learn about the benefits of their drugs. Twenty-one percent (21%) prefer their doctors to meet with pharmaceutical companies, and 8% prefer their doctors not meet with drug marketers.

When respondents were asked if pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to sponsor continuing education programs designed to help them describe the benefits of their drugs, almost three-quarters (72%) said that they should be allowed to do this. Only 11% said they should not be allowed, and 18% were not sure.

"In general, patients think that their doctors make good judgments about when to believe or not to believe the drug companies," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Harris Interactive's Harris Poll. "The public does not believe that their doctors are manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry marketing." PR

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