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October 25, 1995

Physicians and Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

Author Affiliations

Greenville, NC

JAMA. 1995;274(16):1267. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530160019019

To the Editor.  —The report by Dr Ziegler and colleagues,1 who found that 11% of statements made by pharmaceutical representatives to physicians are contradictory to readily verifiable information, hardly seems a revelation. Similarly, it is not surprising that those false utterances invariably cast the promoted product in a favorable light. What may be challenged, however, are the authors' contentions that physicians generally fail to recognize those inaccuracies and, further, that approximately four of 10 doctors substantially rely on the information provided by pharmaceutical sales representatives in deciding to prescribe a particular drug.The study by Ziegler et al contains a number of flaws. The sample population was small (n=27), and the study assessed only the practices of house officers. Because the "target customer" for drug companies is the community-based practitioner, conclusions related to physician behaviors based exclusively on the responses of resident physicians lack validity. Additionally, because the information

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