PLoS Medicine has published an article calling for changes to the way healthcare professionals learn about medicines.
The article makes four recommendations:
1. All health professionals should be educated explicitly about decision making and evaluation of evidence and promotion
2. Health professionals should be helped to understand that there is no proven method for enabling them to gain more benefit than harm from promotion
3. Health professionals should be helped to understand their responsibility to avoid pharmaceutical and device promotion
4. Health professionals should be educated explicitly about the most reliable sources of information
The article states that misleading promotion can be a threat to health and states that there is evidence that “pharmaceutical promotion correlates with medically inappropriate and wasteful use of pharmaceuticals“.
It is proposed that individual clinicians should avoid one-to-one meetings with sales representatives and be aware of the benefit-to-harm ratio of promotion.
NNH= number needed to harm
Hat tip: Matt Robinson at Prescribing Advice for GPs