BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Interaction between physicians and pharmaceutical sales representative (PR) is a major component of the promotional activities by pharmaceutical companies. The lack of studies examining the magnitude of this interaction in Saudi Arabia is evident. The objective of this study is to estimate the magnitude and associated characteristics of physician-PR interaction.
DESIGN AND SETTINGS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among physicians working in the different regions of Saudi Arabia between March and July of 2012.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was undertaken between March and July of 2012 in the different regions of Saudi Arabia. A self-administrated questionnaire was developed and handed to all participants, both in paper and electronic formats.
RESULTS: A total of 663 participants completed the questionnaire. The participation rate was 66.3% (663/1000). The majority of the participants (72.9%) reported interaction with PRs. This was lower among residents/interns compared to higher ranking employees (55.6% vs 83.6%, P < .001). Approximately half (48.3%) of the interactions occurred at a rate of more than once a month. A majority of the participants (72.1%) occasionally accepted gifts such as stationery (57%), drug samples (54%), meals (38%), and sponsorship of educational activities (30%). The following characteristics were independently associated with physician-PR interaction: non-Saudi nationals, a higher monthly income, Western medical education, working in a private hospital, being a specialist or registrar (rather than resident or intern), working on certain specialties (such as psychiatry and family medicine), and having limited number of patients with high socioeconomic status.
CONCLUSION: Although lower than seen in many parts of the world, a high prevalence of physician-PR inter.action in Saudi hospitals is reported. Delineating associated characteristics may assist with future interventions. Further research should focus on ethical, clinical, prescription, and economic impact of interaction as well as determining the best strategy to reduce negative impact.
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