Pharmaceutical companies that promote their drug information to physicians have resulted in benefits to patient care. Drug information can be educational for physicians and decrease the cost/time necessary for information searches by physicians.
Most physicians are very busy with patients and don’t have time for literature searches in medical journals. Patient care benefits when the physician is presented with a brief, factual, unbiased summary of new drug therapies.
As a result, physicians are current with the latest drug therapies and their patients will benefit from this additional knowledge. Pharmaceutical companies have also traditionally funded continuing medical education (CME) programs, which provides a benefit. Continuing medical education (CME) is defined as post-graduate instructional courses, seminars, or conferences designed to provide unbiased medical education to the physician.
Pharmaceutical companies have been generous in that they provide direct support for CME, for example, they: give educational grants toward general course revenues, pay for booths or exhibits at the meetings, or sometimes support the entire CME program. Some drug companies also give research grants and money to institutions for educational activities, books, and journals. This has the result of improving patient care by providing physician education. The AMA and the Senate agree that many marketing practices serve important and beneficial functions.
The industry provides millions of dollars to fund legitimate educational symposia. Pharmaceutical companies sponsor many worthy undertakings such as CME, research by academic physicians, medical student conferences, and research publications. However, because of controversy in allowing PC sponsorship of CME, in 1990 an Industry/CME provider task force examined the CME guidelines. As a result, new CME standards were approved by the AACME, which will be described in a later section. Furthermore, the presentation of educational material by the PCR also has a positive benefit to health care.
The PCR is an important link between the PC and the physician. The PCR supplies information on new drugs, appropriate disease state, results of clinical studies, and treatment information.