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News1992September › Drug adverts: misleading › September 1992

Drug adverts: misleading

Many advertisements for drugs in the medical literature are misleading and could lead to improper prescribing, said a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine

Many advertisements for drugs in the medical literature are misleading and could lead to improper prescribing, said a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study had two doctors and a clinical pharmacist review 109 advertisements for drugs in the literature. In nearly a third of cases, the reviewers disagreed with the advertisement's claim that the drug was the drug of choice for a particular problem, and in 44 per cent of cases, the reviewers believed the advertisement would lead to improper prescribing if the doctor reading it had no knowledge of the drug other than what he read from the ads.

"The real problem is not that doctors are exposed to these adverts, but that they deny they are," said Charles Medawar, director of Social Audit, a medical policy watchdog agency. "It would be horrifying to think doctors make prescribing decisions based on adverts, but doctors can't persist with the myth that it doesn't affect them."

A British Medical Journal article about this finding (13 June1992) highlights the intended use of Didronel PMO etidronate and calcium by Norwich Eaton for treating established osteoporosis. A recent ad urges doctors to use the drug for hip and wrist fractures ie, before osteoporosis has been confirmed.


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