Pharmaceutical brochures don't always present accurate data

Brochures produced by pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs to doctors don't always present accurate data.

A study published in the journal BMC Family Practice found that three out of twenty promotional brochures studied contained data that was different from the original study on the effects of the drug.

Although the differences were small, the authors of the study recommend that doctors review original studies before changing their drug prescribing behaviour based on promotional brochures.

Roberto Cardarelli and colleagues from University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas, USA asked physicians in five clinics to collect the promotional brochures they had received from pharmaceutical companies. Twenty brochures representing 20 different drugs were collected from October to December 2004 and the original corresponding studies were obtained. Two reviewers compared the content of each brochure with the data presented in the original study.

Cardarelli et al.'s results show that for three of the brochures studied, the data presented on the brochure differed from the results of the underlying study. Of the 20 identified studies, 15 studies were rated as valid and 16 had been funded by the pharmaceutical company producing the drug.

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