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GPs have 'unhealthy' relationship with reps

The BMJ has criticised GPs for relying too heavily on the pharmaceutical industry for information and education about drugs.

The GPC reacted by strongly defending the relationship between GPs and drug representatives and claimed pharmaceutical companies fill a funding gap in the NHS.

A special issue of the

journal last week examined the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry and its impact on prescribing and research and the

consequences for patients.

One study suggested GPs who see drug reps at least once a week are more likely to write unnecessary prescriptions.

Guest editor of last week's issue (May 31), US journalist Ray Moynihan, told Pulse the relationship between GPs and reps was 'unhealthy' and GPs should be using more independent sources of information.

He said: 'Doctors have got to learn to value their profession's credibility without having to sell it.'

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing sub-committee, said the BMJ issue was 'biased and two-faced'. He added: 'I don't think reps have a huge influence on prescribing in an adverse way. Medical education is very badly funded in the UK and without the

input from reps we wouldn't have any. The [guest editor] obviously has no idea what life in general practice is like.'

A spokesman for the the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said the BMJ issue was not balanced because the association's contributions were rejected.

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