The Portland Veterans Affairs Research and Education Foundation, in cooperation with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine, has partnered with Planet Productions to create an e-learning series to inform health care professionals about the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing practices.
The courses’ emphasis will be on the process the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes through in approving drugs, how pharmaceutical companies try to affect physicians’ prescribing behavior and, accordingly, how physicians can make informed decisions regarding prescriptions.
Plant Products is a provider of custom e-learning, and the aforementioned e-learning courses will be available in July. The goal of their first phase will be educating health care providers, and the second phase will be educating health care consumers.
Some reports indicate pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much on marketing as they do on research, and Dr. Stephanie Halvorson, OHSU assistant professor, said the e-learning courses will help open up physicians’ eyes to the potential problems that can arise from pharmaceutical companies’ influence on prescribing behaviors.
“Making health professionals aware of pharmaceutical industry marketing practices is so important,” Halvorson said. “Our goal with this initiative is to assist health professionals in developing the knowledge and strategies for evaluating existing sources of drug information and for accessing unbiased sources of information about drugs.”
Dean McCrea, Planet Productions vice president of sales and marketing, said e-learning can help OHSU and the Portland Veterans Affairs Research and Education Foundation reach this goal.
“Thinking and learning skills can be successfully developed using simulation/role-playing/games,” he said. “We are leveraging these techniques and are producing very interactive and engaging courses to ensure the information is real and relevant to each individual completing the program.
“This approach will effectively assist health professionals in developing the knowledge and skills to evaluate marketing techniques and understanding the potential areas of conflicts of interest.”
There has been a rise in requiring stricter and clearer guidelines on pharmaceutical companies to ensure they promote their products to health care professionals in ethical ways.
The three e-learning courses are slated to be Evidence-Based Pharmaceutical Choices, The Regulatory Environment and Interacting with Vendors. The third class will deal with how to accept promotional items.
Those who take the courses will be evaluated before and after the training so that what they learned can be measured.
Health care professionals across the United States will be able to view all the materials used in the program, which likely will have a positive impact nationwide.
The program’s goal is to improve physicians’ prescribing practices by:
- Educating health professionals at all levels of training about the drug development and approval process.
- Making health professionals aware of pharmaceutical industry marketing practices and assisting them in developing the knowledge and skills to evaluate those marketing techniques.
- Making health professionals aware of the conflicts of interest created by accepting pharmaceutical promotions and helping them to minimize these conflicts.
- Providing examples and strategies for evaluating existing sources of drug information and for accessing unbiased sources of information about drugs.