Critical appraisal of drug promotional literature using World Health Organisation guidelines


  • Sandhya Rani Gautam Department of Pharmacology, Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India
  • Preeta Kaur Chugh Department of Pharmacology, Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India
  • Ravinder Kr. Sah Department of Pharmacology, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India
  • C. D. Tripathi Department of Pharmacology, Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, India



Advertisement, Brochures, Drug promotional literature, WHO guidelines, Pharmaceutical company


Background: Pharmaceutical marketing using drug promotional literatures is an important strategy adopted by the companies to promote their drugs. The primary objective of the present study is to compare the drug promotional literature of different pharmaceutical companies on the basis of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on ethical drug promotion.

Methods: This observational, cross sectional study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital, Delhi. The promotional literature was evaluated in accordance with WHO guidelines, nature of claims, pictorial content presented in it and for the cited references.

Results: A total of 208 promotional brochures were analysed. Only few (5.8%) of the promotional literature fulfilled all the criteria as mentioned by the guidelines. Nutritional supplements (27.9%) were the most promoted group of drugs. Pharmaceutical companies were most reluctant to provide information regarding contraindications (9.6%), adjuvants (11.5), side effects (10.6%) and drug interactions (9.6%). Generic name, brand name, dosage form, therapeutic indications were outlined in most of the brochures. Exaggerated emotional claims were made in 47.1% brochures, followed by that of efficacy in 39.4% and safety in 25% of brochures. Pictures of medicinal products outnumbered others with 39.9% followed by pictures of women, children and doctors with 20.7%, 17.3% and 13.5% respectively.

Conclusions: Majority of the drug promotional literature did not comply with the ethical guidelines and was inadequate in terms of their adequacy, quality and reliability. Hence, it can be concluded that the majority of the promotional advertisements that are given to the prescribers are not able to spread awareness towards rational prescribing. 


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How to Cite

Gautam, S. R., Chugh, P. K., Sah, R. K., & Tripathi, C. D. (2017). Critical appraisal of drug promotional literature using World Health Organisation guidelines. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 6(8), 2014–2019.



Original Research Articles