Medical publications distributed freely to health professionals often promote drugs that are costly or have potential problems, says a new study warning that such practices could influence which drugs doctors prescribe, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 28:
Unlike medical publications that require paid subscriptions, free journals get most or all of their funding from pharmaceutical advertising.
A group of researchers keen to discover what effect industry ties have on the content of published medical journals conducted a detailed comparison of journals that are free, those that have some pharmaceutical advertising and subscription fees, and those that are subscription-only.
Their findings, published on Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, show that free journals are much more likely than other publications to display ads for new drugs that are more expensive than older, generic versions as well as drugs that are linked to some concerns over effectiveness.
But the researchers also discovered that free journals frequently print editorial content that directly recommends the drugs that are advertised in the journal.
“It’s pretty well drug company advertising,” said Joel Lexchin, a professor in the School of Health Policy & Management [Faculty of Health] at York University in Toronto and one of the study’s authors. “These journals probably have a role in influencing prescribing behaviour.”
Republished courtesy of YFile – York University’s daily e-bulletin.