Canadian medical journals lead way in drug ads, study finds

(Medical Xpress)—Canadian medical journals feature five times more pharmaceutical ads than journals in the United States and Britain, according to a new study involving a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Alberta.

Peter Gill, a at the U of A, was a co-author of the article with an international team of researchers while attending Oxford University on his Rhodes Scholarship. The team monitored print editions of six general medical journals between 2007 and 2012. They concluded that, although the drug advertisements generate little revenue for the journals, they may potentially influence readers and undermine the publication's credibility.

"Pharmaceutical may influence prescribing behaviour by providing physicians with information about a medication or device that affects the choice of medication used for patient care," said Gill.

"For example, if a physician is planning on starting a patient on a class of medications where each medication in the class works similarly, they decide to use the one they recently saw an ad for in a journal that suggested it was more effective than the competitor."

The study showed that some issues of Canadian Family Physician contained more drug ads than edited content. The researchers suggest could eliminate the advertisements altogether by modestly increasing subscription rates.

"Studies cited in our paper suggest that up to one-third of contain misleading information," stated Gill. "Therefore, removing these from journals would reduce the potential for misleading information."

However, he said it's difficult to speculate how removing the ads could have an impact on the Canadian health-care system or on future prescribing behaviour.

The research team examined journals with the highest readerships: the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Canadian Family Physician, the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine.

More information: Gettings J, O'Neill B, Chokshi DA, Colbert JA, Gill P, et al. (2014) Differences in the Volume of Pharmaceutical Advertisements between Print General Medical Journals. PLoS ONE 9(1): e84790. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084790

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The influence of advertising on drug recommendations

Feb 28, 2011

A medical journal's revenue source can affect drug recommendations, with free journals positively recommending specific drugs while journals funded solely by subscriptions usually recommending against the use of the drugs, ...

Social media brings academic journals to general readers

Nov 14, 2013

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Dermatology shows that a handful of academic journals have successfully leveraged social media to reach ...

TV drug ads: The whole truth?

Sep 16, 2013

Consumers should be wary when watching those advertisements for pharmaceuticals on the nightly TV news, as six out of 10 claims could potentially mislead the viewer, say researchers in an article published in the Journal of ...

FDA urges docs to report misleading drug ads

May 11, 2010

(AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will begin asking doctors to keep an eye out for misleading drug advertisements as part of the agency's latest effort to police the pharmaceutical industry's multibillion-dollar ...

Recommended for you

New medical device to make the mines safer

Nov 21, 2014

Dehydration can be a serious health issue for Australia's mining industry, but a new product to be developed with input from Flinders University's Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) is set to more effectively ...

US family gets $6.75 million in Botox case

Nov 20, 2014

A New York couple who said Botox treatment of their son's cerebral palsy left him with life-threatening complications and sued its manufacturer won a $6.75 million verdict from a federal jury on Thursday.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.