(Responses from pharmaceutical companies to doctors' requests for more drug information in Pakistan)
Many doctors in the developing world do not receive adequate or appropriate responses then they request product information from drug companies, claim doctors from Pakistan in this week's BMJ. Assad Hafeez from Khan Research Laboratories Hospital in Islamabad and Zafar Mirza from The Network for Rational Use of Medication in Pakistan believe that the decision to respond to a request for more information seems to depend on how favourable it might be to the interests of the company.
The authors asses how seriously pharmaceutical companies take their responsibility to provide information on request, by recording the promptness, nature and adequacy of their replies to doctors. They found that of 152 requests to 45 companies (made by 24 doctors in different cities in Pakistan), only just over a quarter (26 per cent; 39 responses) received a response. Of these 39 responses only six met the WHO criteria for optimal drug information.
Hafeez and Mirza also found that the specialists who made requests received twice as many responses as the general practitioners, which they claim is because "specialists are seen as opinion formers and more important to the companies that general practitioners." They conclude that objective drug information is essential for effective prescribing and they call upon the Pakistan ministry of health, academic institutes and non-governmental organisations to make available unbiased information on drugs.
Dr Assad Hafeez, Consultant Paediatrician, Paediatric Department, Khan Research Laboratories Hospital, Islamabad, Pakistan firstname.lastname@example.org