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A study of promotional advertisements of drugs in a medical journal: an ethics perspective

Sarmila Nath, Subhrojyoti Bhowmick, Trayambak Dutta, VR Chowrasia, Shipra Bhattacharya, RN Chatterjee, Manjula Sarkar, AK Ram, PK Mukherjee

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2014.059


The study assessed 54 advertisements of 145 different drugs, published over one year (from December 2011 to November 2012) in an Indian medical journal, circulated widely mainly among general practitioners (GPs). The ethical guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) for medicinal drug promotion were applied. The brand name was mentioned in all advertisements (100% compliance both with the WHO and OPPI criteria) and the names of the active ingredients were also mentioned in 128 (90.14%) advertisements. However, major adverse drug reactions were mentioned in only two advertisements (1.37%); precautions, contraindications and warnings in only two (1.37%); and major interactions in only one (0.68%). Only three advertisements (2.06%) were well substantiated with references. To ensure the ethical promotionof drugs among GPs, journals must introduce compulsory review and appraisal of promotional advertisements by a dedicated review board, including at least one member trained in pharmacology and one representative from the medical division of a pharmaceutical company.

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