To the Editor.
—It is not surprising that Drs Chren and Landefeld1 found that spending by pharmaceutical companies increased the sales of their products, in this case through addition of the products to formularies. After all, the purpose of promotion is to promote. However, the interpretation of these results is important. Some might interpret the findings as indicating that pharmaceutical companies unduly influence behavior of physicians through promotional expenditures. This interpretation should be resisted. Rather, the article documents the social benefit of information provision by pharmaceutical companies.The article indicates that all requests for addition of new drugs to the formulary were at the request of physicians, often after interactions with drug companies. Thirteen of the requests were for drugs that represented a major therapeutic advance over existing drugs, and 13 were for drugs with a modest therapeutic advantage. Thus, the study indicates that pharmaceutical promotion was responsible for
Rubin PH. Pharmaceutical Promotion and Physician Requests to Hospital Formularies. JAMA. 1994;272(5):355. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520050033021