Table 3. Illustrative quotes of the methods of influence used by pharmaceutical representatives
Biased information ‘I’d listen but I’d be somewhat sceptical about the claims, obviously they’re telling you about all the good trials.’ (P12)
‘I try to have a filter so that I’m aware of the bias in their presentation and the materials.’ (P1)
Controlling discourse ‘I’ll give you an arbitrary example, let’s imagine a supplement for vitamin D, they[pharmaceutical company] might bring a consultant to talk to GPs about the importance of vitamin D supplementation, and of course the company sponsoring the meeting is also providing a vitamin D supplement. Now it would never be so overt as the consultant saying you should prescribe that company’s vitamin D supplement but[…] that is obviously an attempt to sell a product.’ (P17)
‘Opinion leaders are of course important but unfortunately I think a lot of opinion leaders are in the pockets of pharma. You know CME events should not be sponsored by pharmaceutical companies but they are.’ (P4)
Gifts and contributions ‘We are absolutely struggling as a new practice, like we do not have an AED at the moment and I had to look around and one might cost €1500 but if I saw a pharmaceutical representative, and I continued to see them, I could definitely ask them to pay for it and they would. And it is so attractive because ultimately it makes you more money as a GP, and I am losing out financially because I am not doing that.’ (P7)
‘In my experience it’s been pens, yeah cakes and sandwiches the odd time, the majority of the time it’s pens.’ (P3)
  • AED = automated external defibrillator. CME = Continuing Medical Education. P = participant.