Promotion of medicines relies heavily on data from clinical studies but many people want to know what others are doing before they will consider using a new product. To overcome this obstacle promotional activity will often seek to use opinion leaders.
Opinion Leaders are well-respected authorities in their area of expertise, whose name will be recognised and who are preferably working in the local area. This will include hospital consultants, medical directors and increasingly pharmaceutical advisors.
Adding the opinion leaders positive endorsement to the sales message bolsters the promotional message.
Critical Appraisal of this type of information is useful when considering the impact of the promotional message on current practice.
- Does the opinion leader provide care for or advice about patients who are similar to your own in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and social status
- Do your patients have the same disease and at the same severity to those seen by the opinion leader
- Can the endorsement of the opinion leader be substantiated, either at the time of the promotional activity or independently later
For example, I have recently been misquoted during promotional activity for a product undertaken in the PCT where I work. I have made a complaint through the normal channels and will post further details once the outcome is confirmed to me in writing.