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Virendra Kushwaha*, Pooja Agrawal, Pushpendra Pushkar, A. K. Singh and S. K. Barman


Objective: With the competition between pharmaceutical companies and a vast amount of increment in drug promotional spending, unethical practices are not uncommon. The objective of this study was to critically analyse the data that is presented to the practitioners on drug promotional advertisements (DPAs). Methods: An observational study to critically assess DPAs was carried out in the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, U.P. The DPAs were collected randomly from the websites of respective pharmaceutical companies. Each DPA was analysed as per the WHO established ethical criteria for medicinal drug promotional advertisements. Results: A total of 250 DPAs were collected and analysed. Most of the DPAs were for antimicrobial drugs (18%) and except for the brand name, none information was contained in all DPAs. Most of the DPAs contained information such as the name(s) and the content of the active ingredient(s), dosage form, and approved therapeutic uses but only a few of all DPAs (3.6%) had safety information such as the side-effects, major adverse drug reactions, precautions, contraindications, warnings, and major interaction and none had information regarding the name of other ingredients known to cause problems. The reference to scientific literature was written in only 14% of DPAs. DPAs provide only a maximum of 5 or 6 types of information out of 11 as per the WHO established ethical criteria. Conclusions: The pharmaceutical companies hide the safety information in most of the DPAs and do not support their claims with appropriate references. For safe and rational prescribing practitioners should also consider gathering the information regarding the drug or the brand from medium other than the DPAs of the respective pharmaceutical companies.

Keywords: WHO, Ethical drug promotion, drug advertisements, drug brochures, drug promotional literature.

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