Washington, D.C. (March 29, 2011) — Nearly eight out of 10 physicians view pharmaceutical research companies and their sales representatives as useful sources of information on prescription medicines, according to a survey released today by KRC Research.
The telephone survey of more than 500 American Medical Association members found that physicians consider a range of sources useful for staying informed about medicines. In addition to biopharmaceutical representatives and company-sponsored peer education programs, respondents also rated continuing medical education courses, peer-reviewed medical journals, and their fellow physicians as useful sources of information.
The survey also found that physicians consider a broad range of factors in making their prescribing decisions, with almost all respondents relying on their clinical knowledge and experience as well as a patient’s response to a particular medicine. More than 80 percent reported that they take into consideration a patient’s insurance factors, such as formulary and prior authorization requirements, with just under 70 percent using information provided by biopharmaceutical research company representatives.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and CEO John J. Castellani said of the survey findings, “What is clear from the results of the survey is that physicians review and integrate information from many sources in order to stay informed about medicines. This helps them make the most informed treatment decisions possible.”
The survey, which was supported by PhRMA, also looked closely at how physician respondents view their interactions with biopharmaceutical company representatives.
For example, more than 90 percent responded that interactions with representatives allow them to learn about new indications for approved medicines, potential side effects of medicines, and both emerging benefits and risks of medicines.
In addition, 84 percent of physicians said that interactions with representatives allow them the opportunity to provide feedback to a pharmaceutical company about their experiences with a specific medicine.
Large majorities also found information from company representatives to be up-to-date and timely (94 percent), useful (92 percent), and reliable (84 percent).
The survey also included several questions about company-sponsored peer education programs, in which physicians present FDA-approved scientific information to their peers on behalf of biopharmaceutical research companies. Nearly nine in 10 of physicians who reported attending these programs said the information was up-to-date, useful and reliable.
According to the survey findings, these programs are particularly important to physicians in rural areas, who may find it difficult to attend professional conferences or continuing medical education courses: 86 percent of physicians in rural areas are likely to attend peer education programs. Overall, 76 percent of responding physicians have attended them.
Physicians attending peer education programs reported gaining a range of information, including: improved clinical knowledge (98 percent), potential side effects of medicines (97 percent), new uses of medicines (97 percent), the range of treatment options (97 percent), and emerging drug risks (95 percent). Importantly, 94 percent said the programs strengthened their ability to care for patients.
“Peer education programs allow physicians to have important dialogues with their expert colleagues. This sharing of information ultimately benefits the patients they treat,” said PhRMA’s Castellani.
The data from the survey emphasizes the value of interactions between biopharmaceutical company representatives and healthcare providers. This value is reinforced by PhRMA’s Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, which seeks to ensure that biopharmaceutical company engagement with providers is professional, ethical, and educational – and, ultimately, helps to give physicians some of the tools they need to give their patients the best care possible. The Code, which was updated and strengthened in 2009, is available here.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.4 billion in 2010 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $67.4 billion in 2010.
PhRMA Internet Address: http://www.phrma.org
For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit: http://www.innovation.org
For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit: http://www.pparx.org
For more information on public health emergencies, visit http://www.rxresponse.org
For information on the danger of imported drugs, visit: http://www.buysafedrugs.info