WEDNESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Drug company salespeople
provide family doctors with little or no information about the
harmful effects of medicines they are promoting, a new study
Despite this lack of knowledge, doctors are likely to start
prescribing these drugs after visits from company representatives,
according to the findings from questionnaires completed by
American, Canadian and French doctors.
The study revealed that salespeople failed to provide any
information about common or serious side effects or warn doctors
about types of patients who should not use the medicine in 59
percent of the promotions.
"Laws in all three countries require sales representatives to provide information on harm as well as benefits," lead author Barbara Mintzes, of the University of British Columbia, said in a university news release. "But no one is monitoring these visits and there are next to no sanctions for misleading or inaccurate promotion."
Serious risks were mentioned in only 6 percent of the
promotions, even though 57 percent of the medicines involved in
these visits came with U.S. Food and Drug Administration "black
box" or Health Canada boxed warnings, which are the strongest types
of drug warnings in the two countries.
"We are very concerned that doctors and patients are left in the dark and patient safety may be compromised," Mintzes said.
Doctors in France were more likely to be told about the
potential harmful effects of drugs during promotional visits than
their counterparts in Canada and the United States. This may be due
to tighter regulations for promotion of medicines in France, the
The study was published online April 10 in the
Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about