Added value: the pharmaceutical industry as a provider of medical information

The pharmaceutical industry has faced many changes and new regulations that aim to ensure excellence in its primary goal, improving patients’ lives. Although there is still a way to go, much has been achieved and the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and their partners, such as the authorities, healthcare professionals and consumers, is now very different. One area of important change has been scientific information. Until relatively recently, pharmaceutical companies limited themselves to providing health professionals with information from the technical data sheet of the product they were marketing (the Summary of Product Characteristics). There was even less information for the patient. Today the situation is very different. Most biomedical companies have adequately-resourced departments specializing in medical information and scientific documentation. This means that the company that has developed the product, and which knows it best, can provides suitable information to those who need it, be they the authorities or health professionals. These departments are based in the scientific or regulatory area of the company, so that there is no influence from the commercial departments. This ensures that the information provided, in addition to being complete, is objective, accurate and impartial, responds to the request and is not promotional; in other words, that it does not promote use of the medication. However, the situation changes when patients, not health professionals, are trying to get this information. In these cases, medical information departments can do no more than give a general response based on the drug’s prospectus and without entering into personal interactions, but insisting that the patient consult with their doctor or pharmacist for more specific questions. But the greater knowledge of patients and easy digital access to far more information than ever before means that this type of relationship is being reconsidered. Giving sufficient attention to the enquiries of patients about a medicine without getting into particulars, yet not frustrating their request to such as extend that they resort to less accurate sources is, without a doubt, a serious challenge. One of the most difficult faced not only by the industry but also by the authorities and health professionals. Working groups are being created to define what rules should govern this type of activity and what the role of each party should be. But the objective remains the same, to improve the quality of life of our patients

José Luis Lorenzo's picture
José Luis Lorenzo
Director del Departamento de Información Científica y Documentación