Nurse Practitions Like Pharma Lunches + Dinners
Much is made of the interactions between doctors and drugmakers and, specifically, the extent to which certain practices, such as free meals, may unduly influence medical practice and prescribing habits. But, of course, there are other healthcare professionals in the equation, such as nurse practitioners. And a recent study in the American Journal of Managed Care argues that marketing toward this group deserves similar scrutiny. A few findings: Nearly all of the NP’s - 96 percent - reported regular contact with reps and most - 71 percent - say they received info on new drugs directly from reps some or most of the time. Meanwhile, 61 percent reported it was acceptable for drugmakers to provide small gifts and meals to clinical offices, although 93 percent said gifts had no effect on the likelihood of prescribing a highlighted drug.
What else? Well, 90 percent believed it was acceptable to attend lunch and dinner events sponsored by drugmakers, and 75 percent said it was acceptable for a speaker to be paid by a drugmaker. At the same time, 78 percent said sponsored meal events were a good-to-excellent way to get info about new drugs, 69 percent reported events encouraged usage of “newer, highly marketed” drug and 48 percent acknowledged they were more likely to prescribe a highlighted drug after attending events (you can read the study here).
Why does this matter? Well, there are more than 150,000 NP’s in the US and it is estimated there will be more than 190,000 by 2015. And the authors note that nearly 97 percent of NP’s prescribe meds and each one writes, on average, between 19 and 25 prescriptions a day, or about 6,200 a year. In other words, this is a group that pharma wants to reach. Yet, the authors says NP’s have operated “under the radar” when it comes to understanding the influence marketing has on this group.
“Prescriber contact and interface with pharmaceutical industry promotions have been found to contribute to non–evidence-based prescribing by physician and nurse prescribers,” the authors write. “…Although the scope and extent of (NP) prescribing activities have been less than obvious to consumers and to other healthcare professionals, the pharmaceutical industry has clearly taken notice.”
By the way, 66 percent of the NP’s reported that they regularly dispensed samples to their patients, and 73 percent believe samples were somewhat or very helpful in learning about new drugs. And 81 percent said they thought it was ethically acceptable to distribute samples to anyone.
A few further words: the authors acknowledge that the 263 participants was a small sample size and that each received a $50 gift certificate for answering the questions, an irony, but perhaps this reflects a degree of training from exposure to reps. Funding was provided by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Grant Program.
Source : Pharmalot
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