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Int J Risk Saf Med. 1995;7(1):1-15. doi: 10.3233/JRS-1995-7102.

The pharmaceutical industry and the lay press: the industry's point of view.

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Groningen Institute for Drug Studies (GIDS), University Centre for Pharmacy, Section Social Pharmacy and Pharmaco-epidemiology, Ant. Deusinglaan 2, 9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands.


The general public has a high degree of interest in information relating to health and illness. Family magazines and daily newspapers play an important role as sources of information about these subjects. Journalists writing about medicines in newspapers in the Netherlands have been found to use a series of complementary sources to obtain ideas and information on this subject; the pharmaceutical industry is one of the sources used by them. In this paper we explore the role of the lay press as a communication channel for pharmaceutical companies. The results of this study show that information from the pharmaceutical industry to the general public has become increasingly extensive and emphatic. Pharmaceutical companies consider that it is important to inform a lay audience about their products and about the diseases for which they can be used. The lay press, both daily newspapers and family magazines, can play an important role in informing a lay audience about diseases and new or improved products. If the lay press pays attention to these products many potential 'users' can be reached. Pharmaceutical companies do approach mass media journalists with information about products in various ways at different moments. As long as independent and critical journalists and editors decide for themselves whether information about drugs coming from pharmaceutical companies is newsworthy enough to be published, what reaches the printed page is likely be genuine news and not hidden advertising. A journalist should make very clear to the reader which sources have been used to compile the article, so that the reader can decide for himself whether he wishes to regard the information as reliable.

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