An analytical survey of promotional drug literatures at C. U. Shah Medical College and Hospital, Surendranagar

Preeti Narendra Bhatt, Dimple S. Mehta, Sunita B. Chhaiya


Background: The research and marketing of a new drug requires a lot of money by the pharmaceutical companies. Promotion through advertising brochures and leaflets is widely used to influence the physicians. Most of the times, this information is the only source of new drug information for the physicians. Hence, this study to analyze the appropriateness, accuracy, and validity of promotional drug literatures was undertaken.

Methods: Promotional materials were collected from outpatient departments of C. U. Shah Medical College and Hospital, Surendranagr. They were evaluated according to the “WHO criteria, 1988,” and the references cited to support the claims were checked for their validity and authenticity. The images and the pictorial content were evaluated to find out any biased nature of gender representation.

Results: Evaluation of the total 486 brochures showed that none of them fulfilled all the nine criteria. Of the 308 claims, only 208 (42.79%) gave references to support the claims. Only 27 (39.13%) of the research articles among the 125 journal article cited were of high methodological quality. Among the 218 human figures, 144 were patients, and 103 were doctors. Female patients (62.5%) were depicted more than male patients (37.5%).

Conclusion: The present study showed that pharmaceutical companies do not strictly follow the WHO guidelines and majority of the research were sponsored by companies. Hence, more stringent regulations need to be implemented for the proper promotion and dissemination of information about the new drugs.


Promotional literatures, World Health Organization criteria, Drug promotion

Full Text:



Drug promotion. World Health Organization, 2004. Available at Cited on 2014 August.

Ethical criteria for medicinal drug promotion. World Health Organization, 1988. Available at Cited on 2014 July.

Lexchin J. Physicians and drug companies interact. Can Fam physician. 1993;39:1881-2.

Greenhalgh T. Drug prescription and self-medication in India: an exploratory survey. Soc Sci Med. 1987;25(3):307-18.

Gutknecht DR. Evidence-based advertising? A survey of four major journals. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2001;14(3):197-200.

Villanueva P, Peiró S, Librero J, Pereiró I Accuracy of pharmaceutical advertisements in medical journals. Lancet. 2003;361:27-32.

OPPI code of pharmaceutical marketing practices, 2007. Available at Cited on 2014 August.

US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: good Reprint Practices for the Distribution of Medical Journal Articles and Medical or Scientific Reference Publications on Unaproved New Uses of Approved Drugs and Approved or Cleared Medical Devices. c2008. Available at Cited on 2014 August.

Reminder Ad (Correct), 2012. Available at Cited on 2014 September.

Vlassov V, Mansfield P, Lexchin J, Vlassova A. Do drug advertisements in Russian medical journals provide essential information for safe prescribing? West J Med. 2001;174(6):391-4.

Mali SN, Dudhgaonkar S, Bachewar NP. Evaluation of rationality of promotional drug literature using World Health Organization guidelines. Indian J Pharmacol. 2010;42(5):267-72.

Islam MS, Farah SS. Drug promotional brochure as a source of drug information in Bangladesh: a critical analysis of the brochures for the authenticity of information. Calicut Med J. 2008;6(1):e5.

Van Winkelen P, van Denderen JS, Vossen CY, Huizinga TW, Dekker FW. How evidence-based are advertisements in journals regarding the subspecialty of rheumatology? Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006;45(9):1154-7.

Cooper RJ, Schriger DL. The availability of references and the sponsorship of original research cited in pharmaceutical advertisements. Can Med Assoc J. 2005;172(4):487-91.

Curry P, O’Brien M. The male heart and the female mind: a study in the gendering of antidepressants and cardiovascular drugs in advertisements in Irish medical publication. Soc Sci Med. 2006;62(8):1970-7.

Leppard W, Ogletree SM, Wallen E. Gender stereotyping in medical advertising: much ado about nothing. Sex Roles. 1993;29:829-38.

Jaykaran, Yadav P, Kantharia ND, Saxena D. Gender and racial bias in drug promotional material distributed by pharmaceutical companies. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(1):55-6.