With the TGA registering an average of three new medicines a month and the PBS updating its schedule several times a year, we explored how GPs prefer to find out about new medicines.
According to one study, GPs are unlikely to spontaneously go looking for information about new medicines. Instead, they are described as reactive and opportunistic recipients of new drug information.i
As a result, the decision to initiate a new drug is heavily influenced by what GPs hear from the pharmaceutical industry, specialists and patients, write the authors. And the decision to adopt a new drug is clinched by subsequent personal clinical experience.
To find out more, we asked 310 AusDoc readers how they prefer to find out about new medications.ii Here are their top 15 choices:
- Reference manuals such as MIMS and Therapeutic Guidelines
- Independent medical media articles
- Independent medical media sponsored content and advertisements
- Journal articles or summaries provided by pharmaceutical companies
- Independent hosted events, dinner meetings or pharmaceutical company CPD education
- Pharmaceutical company brochures and leaflets
- Independent CPD education
- Google searches or browsing the internet
- Other GPs
- Medical journals
- Pharmaceutical company sales reps
- Pharmaceutical company medical science liaisons
- Medical colleges
- Prescribing software
While pharma reps and MSLs were further down the list, they still play an important role in providing GPs with the information they need. An earlier surveyiii of more than 400 AusDoc readers found that one of the top reasons GPs see sales reps is to find out about new medications or devices.
The next two most compelling reasons for seeing reps were:
- Obtaining product samples
- Getting an answer to a specific question about a medication or a specific patient’s treatment.
When asked how satisfied they are with information provided by pharmaceutical companies about new drugs, 46% of respondents were satisfied and 10% were very satisfied with only 17% saying that they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
However, even among the 46% that said they were satisfied, there were clear opportunities for pharma companies to better engage with and support GPs.
Based on free text comments, here’s what respondents like and don’t like about pharmaceutical industry information as well as some suggestions.
- Access to early evidence-based information in a succinct and accessible format
- An opportunity to discuss and challenge the information
- Helpful patient information resources
- Overly positive spin
- Lack of information about side-effects and contraindications
- Key points hidden in “hype”
- Not being kept up to date and hearing about new medications from patients first
Suggestions from GPs on what they would like from Pharma companies:
- Present data without bias
- Show the actual size, shape and colour of a tablet
- Facilitate an opportunity for discussion
- Supply samples to give real-world experience
- Supply GP-specific information and resources online
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[i] Family Practice, 2003. https://academic.oup.com/fampra/article/20/1/61/498919
[ii] ADG reader survey “Optimising how you obtain pharma drug samples” January 2023, n = 310
[iii] Information sources for GPs pre and post COVID-19 (May 2020) n = 403