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Pharmaceutical sales strategies and sponsorship

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To the Editor: It is with dismay that we read in MJA InSight Morton’s dismissal of the international “No Advertising Please” campaign, citing Australian Medical Association (AMA) policy.1

Drug company sales representatives and their sales techniques influence doctors. Morton dismisses the 2010 systematic review2 through selective quoting of the editorial position. In fact, the editors supported the conclusion of the systematic review that there is no evidence of improvement and some evidence of adverse consequences from marketing. There is an abundance of evidence in the behavioural science literature on the impact of marketing,35 and there is evidence that marketers may not make doctors aware of the risks of their products.6

The influence of doctors who are paid by pharmaceutical companies to present research at conferences and workshops is also cause for concern. If we, as a medical community, decline to see sales representatives, will we see an increase in the funding for doctors to present to other doctors on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry?

Many, including AMA leaders, suggest we should continue in the current fashion. We dispute this.