Best practice for covering prescription drug research includes information that indicates: 1) the source of study funding and 2) the generic name of the drug instead of a brand. The vast majority of editors surveyed believe their papers are doing just that, according to a new survey of U.S. daily newspaper editors in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Problem is, a content analysis of the actual coverage shows their belief does not match reality. Abstract of the results available here.
Denial isn’t limited to editors. Previous research into prescribing behaviour of physicians revealed doctors suffer the same fate. Doctors and patients both believe they’re not influenced by media-related drug marketing. But a 2005 study of prescribing behaviour with “fake” patients randomly inserted into a physician’s daily practice (so unbeknownst to the doctors) reveal otherwise. Studies like this (and others) provide great examples of why the rigour of “gold standard” research design is so valuable – what we believe to be “common sense” can be (and, in these cases, are) quite far from the truth.