What patients think about promotional activities of pharmaceutical companies in Turkey
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Drugs, as commercial products, are subject to diverse marketing methods including promotional activities. Although the legal/ethical aspects of promotional activities have been discussed in a limited manner, the patient has remained the neglected variable of this equation. The goal of our study, therefore, is to investigate the patients’ opinion on the promotional activities of pharmaceutical companies.
A descriptive study was conducted at 44 primary health care centers in Turkey and 584 volunteers who applied to these centers were included. A questionnaire consisting of 42 questions was developed with demographic information in the first section, and drug ads and promotions included in the second section. Chi-square test and logistic regression analysis were used for statistical analysis.
Main outcome measure
The awareness and ethical evaluation of patients of the promotional activities.
Nearly 83% of the participants were aware of the promotion issue. Eighty percent found it unethical, 82% suggested that promotional activities should be forbidden, restricted or regulated. 1/3 of the participants believed that physicians made their drug choices based on the gifts and ads of pharmaceutical companies. Half of them had low confidence in the prescriptions of physicians who accepted gifts from the pharmaceutical companies. 54.5% of patients also considered promotional activities as a factor which increased drug prices.
In our study, a considerable number of patients were aware of promotions and the effects of promotion on prescriptions. The findings of our study may contribute to the development of effective regulations on this issue. Very strict measures controlling drug companies’ promotion activities must be formulated. Further, these regulations must incorporate and take into consideration the patients’ opinion. Today, the basic need for the proper use of drugs does not rest in pharmaceutical promotion, but in providing adequate health services and effective education for both people and physicians.
KeywordsPatient involvement Patient opinion Pharmaceutical industry Pharmaceutical promotion Turkey
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The authors want to thank Sahbal Aras, Cengiz Çelikoğlu, Yücel Demiral, Belgin Unal, and Aksel Epik for their assistance with this manuscript.
Funding: A research grant from the Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey (04.KBS.011).
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