Pharmacist-industry relationships.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

The purpose of this study was to document, in their own words, beliefs and attitudes that American pharmacists have towards the pharmaceutical industry and pharmacists' interactions with industry.

METHODS

An ethnographic-style qualitative study was conducted utilizing open-ended interviews with four hospital pharmacists, two independent pharmacists, two retail pharmacists and one administrative pharmacist in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area to elicit descriptions of and attitudes towards pharmacists' relationships with industry. Analysis of the qualitative material followed established ethnographic conventions of narrative thematic analysis.

KEY FINDINGS

All pharmacists reported interactions with pharmaceutical company representatives. Most had received free resources or services from industry, including educational courses. Respondents uniformly believed that industry promotional efforts are primarily directed towards physicians. Although respondents felt strongly that drug prices were excessive and that 'me-too' drugs were of limited use, they generally had a neutral-to-positive view of industry-funded adherence/compliance programmes, coupons, vouchers, and copay payment programmes. Interviewees viewed direct-to-consumer advertising negatively, but had a generally positive view of industry-funded drug information.

CONCLUSIONS

Pharmacists may represent a hitherto under-identified cohort of health professionals who are targeted for industry influence; expanding roles for pharmacists may make them even more attractive targets for future industry attention. Pharmacy schools should ensure that students learn to rely on unbiased information sources and should teach students about conflicts of interest and the risks of interacting with industry. Further research should be conducted on the extent to which pharmacists' attitudes towards their duties and towards drug assessment and recommendation are influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.

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