5 sources of objective drug information suggested
Serious side-effects were mentioned in only 6 per cent of promotions by sales representatives visiting family doctors
Many family doctors find out about new drugs on the market through sales calls with representatives from drug companies, but they aren't always informed about possible harmful effects, a Canadian researcher says.
Sales pitches usually include promotional material, free samples and information about the benefits or harmful effects of the drugs.
As part of a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 255 Canadian, American and French physicians reported on 1,692 drug-specific promotions.
In Vancouver and Montreal, 66 per cent of doctors surveyed said sales reps did not provide information on the potential harmful effects of the drugs they were pitching.
5 drug information sites
"Physicians were rarely informed about serious adverse events, raising questions about whether current approaches to regulation of sales representatives adequately protect patient health," Dr. Joel Lexchin of York University in Toronto and his co-authors concluded.
Serious side-effects were mentioned in only six per cent of the promotions even though about half of the drugs involved came with the strongest type of warnings that Health Canada issues.
Lexchin suggested that patients be proactive and ask their doctors about side-effects.
He also recommended several objective sources of information on drugs:
- Canada's Therapeutics Letter - free.
- Prescrire International (translation of the French bulletin La revue Prescrire) - subscription.
- UK's Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin - subscription.
- The Medical Letter (U.S.) - subscription.
- Australian Prescriber - free.
With files from CBC's Kas Roussy