Part of what allows the change, the researchers said, is that information on new medications is now available in many other forums. These may have less bias and be more evidence-based than the material traditionally provided by the pharmaceutical industry, which wanted to sell the latest product. In the Madras clinic, the physicians replaced information previously supplied by drug reps with monthly meetings to stay current on new medications, based on peer-reviewed, rather than promotional literature.
"In the past 5-10 years there's been more of a move toward what we call 'academic detailing,' in which universities and other impartial sources of information can provide accurate information without bias," said Daniel Hartung, assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "This is being supported by some states and the federal government, and it's a move in the right direction."
Moves to separate the drug industry from the practice of medicine have been more aggressive in large medical teaching hospitals, Hartung said, but much less so in smaller private practice. Of the 800,000 physicians in the U.S., only 22 percent practice in academic settings, the study noted, and 84 percent of primary care physicians still have close relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.
The stakes can be high, the researchers said. In the study example, the "sample cabinet" of medications at the Madras clinic, provided for free by the pharmaceutical representatives, had an average price of $90 for a month's supply of the medications. Less expensive, generic medications were identified for 38 of the 46 sample drugs, which would have cost $22 a month.
The new analys
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Oregon State University