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October 25, 1995

Physicians and Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine

JAMA. 1995;274(16):1268. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530160019021

In Reply.  —As Dr Perry notes, our study assessed the practices of house officers. However, other studies have shown that pharmaceutical sales representatives influence private practitioners. In five of six studies reviewed by Lexchin,1 physicians who reported the most reliance on drug company information had the least appropriate prescribing. Of 85 practicing physicians surveyed by Avorn et al,2 62% said that scientific articles were very important in influencing their prescribing, whereas only 20% said pharmaceutical company representatives were very important. However, the majority of those physicians gave opinions promoted by the drug companies that contradicted scientific articles. Thus, many physicians seem unaware of the powerful effect drug companies have in shaping their opinions. In the study by Avorn et al,2 physicians who relied most on information from drug companies had the least accurate information about drugs. Perry is certainly correct that many physicians tend to tune out

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