Pharma websites don't provide doctors with the info they need to make decisions

Doctor and digital devices
Doctors want more educational information and less ads on pharma websites.

A survey of physicians found that pharmaceutical company websites don't give doctors what they need: help in making decisions and caring for patients.

Instead, the websites prioritize advertisements for their drugs over education, doctors said in a survey by Manhattan Research.

Just 27% of 2,784 physicians from across more than 25 specialties say they find pharma websites to be a credible source of professional information, according to the Taking the Pulse U.S. 2017 study.

“Physicians are telling us that pharma brands continue to disappoint when it comes to delivering the basic information they need to support their practices,” Kelly Pinola, senior analyst for physician research, said in an announcement.

Physicians said they want useful content from pharmaceutical companies that help them do their jobs and manage care better, such as quality scientific information, patient education and diagnosis tools. But most of what they get online is advertising, the study found. The survey asked about physicians’ use of emerging technology, how they find information and make decisions, and what they want from drug companies.

Some 70% of physicians said it is essential pharma companies provide "education resources rooted in science" to gain their trust. Yet about half of physicians surveyed said no pharma company provides quality scientific information online.

Physicians also said they were overwhelmed by pharmaceutical ads. About half said they use online video content in their decision-making, but 52% don’t believe the companies are doing a good job at providing quality content.

It’s not just doctors bombarded by those ads. Pharmaceutical companies spent $5.2 billion in 2015 on direct-to-consumer advertising for TV and print ads for prescription medications—and that doesn’t count ads patients see online, including those on social media. Doctors are frequently faced with patients asking about or requesting a medication they have seen advertised on TV. 

Also of concern is the influence pharmaceutical companies have on physician prescribing. An estimated 65% of patients in the United States have visited a doctor in the past year who received payments or gifts from pharmaceutical or medical device companies.

One study last year offered additional evidence of a correlation between payments by drug manufacturers to doctors and increased prescriptions for drugs developed by the latter. Another study found doctors who get a free meal from a drugmaker have an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication that the company is promoting.