Thursday, June 3, 2010

From Evidence-based Medicine to Marketing-based Medicine

A study published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry shows how pharmaceutical companies use business marketing strategies that serve to provide very flattering data, with respect to its products, in terms of efficacy and safety. In this way they get to influence the opinion of prescribers and clearly enhance their marketing interests.

The study uses several internal documents from the pharmaceutical industry and analyzes which strategies are used. Some of the most significant are the Suppression and spinning of negative data and the publication of their studies in journals of high reputation, using the name of well-known professionals who lend their names to change counterparts, whereas the real authors of the article corresponds to a 'ghost' hired by the company. The objective of this technique is to get scientific credibility among readers.

The authors present examples of strategies used in the field of mental health by different companies, transforming studies whose results show a lack of efficacy or questionable efficacy in an effective study.

Other strategies used serve to increase the indications for its products, especially in subclinical or borderline situations. It highlights how the industry segments the market according to the personal profile of the physicians, directing their efforts mainly towards those profiles that are more easily influenced.

The authors conclude that the impact of marketing-based medicine is a poorer health outcomes and increased costs, making it necessary to propose solutions that enable a transparent dissemination of studies conducted by pharmaceutical companies. Those solutions are the prospective registry of clinical trials and their results in public acces registries, public access to regulatory agency reports, as well as a more rigorous role of the editors of medical journals.

These behaviors are obviously hidden, making it difficult to know its extent. That raises the need to reform the system for development and approval of new treatments to enhance transparency and independence in the assessment of both their effectiveness and safety.

Full text: Spielmans GI, Parry PI. From Evidence-based Medicine to Marketing-based Medicine: Evidence from Internal Industry Documents. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 2007; 7:1(13-29)

See also Industria farmaceútica y promoción de medicamentos ¿todo vale?

Posted by Guadalupe Olivera
English version by Erika Céspedes

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