PLoS Medicine has published a paper discussing the influence that the pharmaceutical industry has on nurses and in particular nurses with prescribing qualifications. The British Medical Journal has also reported on the article.
The authors searched the MEDLINE and CINAHL databases for articles that made reference to the relationship between nursing and drug companies. 32 articles were included, only two of these declared any competing interests and neither of these were from nursing literature.
The authors also highlight apparent confidence expressed in nursing literature that, "nurses will not be caught by marketing practices" despite the lack of formal training in critical appraisal skills and the general acceptance that the promotional activity of the pharmaceutical companies provides educational benefits.
The study concludes that the pharmaceutical industry has recognised and invested heavily in promotional activity aimed at nurses at the "expense of the health budget, evidence-based care, and nursing integrity".
Action: Clinicians should consider carefully what benefits they gain from their interactions with the pharmaceutical industry in terms of clinical knowledge and skills. It would be prudent to ensure that any meetings with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry are multidisciplinary and that information presented is discussed among the multidisciplinary team before implementing any changes to practice.