Background: Pharmaceutical sales representatives and direct-to-consumer advertising may influence physician practices, particularly prescribing. Identifying the relevant knowledge and attitudes students possess about the pharmaceutical industry may help professional curricula address these influences. Purposes: To assess knowledge and attitudes toward pharmaceutical industry marketing, ethical principles guiding drug company interactions, pharmaceutical sales representatives as a source of drug information, and confidence level in addressing consumers seeking a prescription from a direct-to-consumer advertisement among senior-level medical, PharmD, and nurse practitioner students. Methods: A cross-sectional survey design was used to assess student knowledge and attitudes of four domains associated with the pharmaceutical industry. Results: Significant deficiencies were noted in student knowledge of pharmaceutical marketing expenditures, professional ethics regarding interactions with drug companies, and accuracy of drug information from sales representatives. Conclusions: Health professional students' knowledge and attitudes toward the pharmaceutical industry are formed prior to graduation. Professional curricula must address the influences of sales representatives before postgraduate training.
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