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Ritu Shah, Ruchir Tewari, Divya Singh, Dewang Angmo, Reetika Sharma, Tanuj Dada; Glaucoma Patients’ awareness and approval of “gifts” to ophthalmologists from pharmaceutical companies. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):4313.
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To determine the awareness, attitude and approval of glaucoma patients on chronic topical ocular hypotensive medications towards “gifts” that pharmaceutical companies give to treating ophthalmologists
This was a cross sectional study including patients from the glaucoma services of a university hospital, who were on topical ocularhypotensive medical therapy for a period of 6 months or more. A resident doctor using a standard questionnaire directly interviewed a total of 88 patients aged 18 yrs of age or above.The questions included demographic data and issues on awareness, attitude and approval of different gift items (drug samples, office items, personal gifts, travel expenses, social events etc) provided to physicians by pharmaceutical companies
Of the 88 participants, 19 (21.6%) were females and 69 (78.4%) were males. Age of the patients was between 18 years and 77 years with a mean age of 47.2 ± 0.5 yrs. Only 58 (65.9%) patients were aware that doctors received gifts from pharmaceutical industry representatives.Forty five (51.1%) patients approved of their physicians receiving gifts in any form. The approval rates for different gift items as given by the patients were - drug samples 62 patients (70.4%), pens 62 patients (70.4%), diary 58 patients (65.9%), calendars 58 patients (65.9%), medical books/ journals/ study material 57 patients (64.7%),domestic conference expenses 31patients (35.22%), food items 30 patients (34.09%), toiletries 26 patients (29.54%), foreign conference trips 25 patients (28.40%), music CDs 25 patients (28.40%),movie outings/ picnics 22 patients (25%), music players 20 patients (22.7%), mobile phone recharge 19 patients (21.6%), dinners/parties 17 patients (19.3%)
Nearly half of glaucoma patients did not approve of the gifts given by pharmaceutical companies to the ophthalmologists. Eye drop samples,stationary items and study material related to ophthalmology had a high approval rate, while less than one third of patients approved conference expenses or any other personal gift items. This is an important ethical consideration when treating ophthalmologists are offered gifts by medical representatives, especially since the patient may indirectly bear the cost burden of these gifts.
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