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Sakaal Times
16 May 2011
By Shashwat Gupta Ray
Pune, India

If the high influence of medical representatives (MRs) marketing the drugs of their pharmaceutical companies is not bad enough, it is worse in the case of next generation medical professionals.

Medical Students Favour Gifts for Doctors to Prescribe Drug
A study done on 253 city medical students' attitude towards the MRs, 70 per cent students were of the opinion that physicians should be compensated with gifts by medical representatives whenever their drugs are prescribed.

The study – Attitudes of medical students towards relationship with pharmaceutical company: do we need a change? has been jointly authored by Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Dr Shahu Ingole and professor and head of the department Pharmacology, Dr Radha Yegnanarayan, Smt Kashibai Navale Medical College and Hospital, Narhe Campus, Pune.

"Doctors interact with the pharmaceutical industry in various ways. Most common are direct face–to–face visits from company representatives. The main promotional thrust of a pharmaceutical company is through its MRs. Their bottom line is 'prescribe my drug'," the study said.

The study published in the International Journal of Pharma Sciences and Research stated that the first interaction of doctors and the pharmaceutical companies often occur at medical colleges. From free stationery, lunches to sponsoring educational seminars, medical students are snowed under the medical freebies.

"Significant deficiencies have been found in students’ knowledge about pharmaceutical marketing expenditures, professional ethics in interacting with drug companies and accuracy of drug information from MRs," the study informed.

In this backdrop, this study was conducted to assess the current attitudes of medical students towards relationship with pharmaceutical companies and drug promotion done by them.

Overall 69 per cent students were found willing to accept the gifts, 55 per cent students were willing to accept gifts of moderate cost, 15 per cent cheap gifts and 30 per cent were willing to accept only expensive gifts.

"The findings show that many medical students are not too concerned about the potential concealed reciprocity and not aware of the strings attached to the gifts provided by drug companies. This can erode the trust in a patient–physician relationship," the study concluded.

The Main Thrust
The main promotional thrust of a pharmaceutical company is through its MRs. Their bottom line is 'prescribe my drug’.

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