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January 5, 1994

Pharmaceutical Firms Urge More Patient Education

JAMA. 1994;271(1):12. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510250020007

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HALF the patients in Western Europe, Japan, and North America do not take the drugs physicians order for them as prescribed. The largest gap in patients' knowledge of prescription drugs is a failure to understand the risks of adverse effects, says a newly released report, and the fault lies with the health care professionals who are "ineffective patient educators."

These are among the principal findings of a survey that reviewed the various governments' publications regarding drug information dissemination efforts and patients' knowledge about the drugs they are supposed to take. The survey, entitled Improving Patient Information and Education on Medicines, was compiled by the International Medical Benefit/Risk Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland. The foundation, formed in 1991, is supported by drug manufacturers.

This issue of patient understanding, says William Lowrance, PhD, the foundation's executive director, is "one of the weakest links in the entire chain from drug discovery to ultimate use." Lowrance

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