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Margaret McCartney: Forever indebted to pharma—doctors must take control of our own education

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1965 (Published 13 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1965

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Re: Margaret McCartney: Forever indebted to pharma—doctors must take control of our own education

Heath Action International (HAI) is a global network of medicines policy expertise, working to increase access to essential medicines and ensure their rational use.

We were delighted to see McCartney's comment on the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on prescribing from early in a doctor's career. Readers may be interested in the WHO/HAI Manual 'Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide', available as a free download in English, French, Spanish and Russian from the HAI website (www.haiweb.org). and also available as hard copy.

We continue to teach from the manual, particularly in low and middle-income countries, where the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on prescribing and dispensing continues unabated. Most recently, two 'training the trainers' workshops in the Philippines, introduced the manual to over 90 Pharmacy School faculty, culminating in declarations from participants to commit to teaching students ethical behaviour when confronted with promotional activity, in all its forms. The delegates included teaching faculty and eight Deans of pharmacy schools.

Of particular note was that for the first time, the courses in Manila and Cebu were accredited with CME points, and curriculum acceptance is not far away. It is a shame that faculty in Europe and North America are less enthusiastic about teaching the dangers of pharmaceutical promotion to students. But then, many medical and pharmacy schools are already bought-out in one way or another by the pharmaceutical industry, so maybe we should not be surprised.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 May 2015
Tim Reed
Executive Director
Health Action International
Overtoom 60/II, Amsterdam 1054HK, Netherlands