Introduction: Pakistan is the 6th most populous country in the world and has an enormous potential for an ever increasing drug market. The health care system is highly prone to unethical drug prescribing practices. In addition, there is a huge tendency of pharmaceutical firms to indulge in unethical drug promotional practices by means of inducements and other benefits through their medical sales representatives (MSRs). On the other hand, the prescribers are also reported to be demanding inducements from these companies in return to write higher number of prescription. This study investigated the ground realities of drug promotion and prescribing practices in Pakistan. Materials and Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted for a period of 6 months in which 472 physicians and 609 medical sales representatives of Pakistan selected through prospective sampling were interviewed on a validated, structured questionnaire. The responses of the target groups were then analyzed for association between variables by Chi–square test (p<0.05) and cross tabulation through SPSS, version 20. Results: Majority of practitioners (83.2%) expected both, good communication skills and knowledge from MSRs and at the same time nearly 53% of prescribers demanded CME and almost 36% demanded gifts, incentives and inducements from MSRs. Replying to same question, MSRs disagreed with prescribers and believed that ~70 % of prescribers ask for inducements with a whopping ~64 % among them demanding unethical inducements like excessive free samples, gifts, leisure trips and even cars. Majority of physicians have consensus that the multinational pharmaceutical firms (92 %) have defined promotional practices while the national pharmaceutical companies (~73 %) are mainly involved in unethical practices of drug marketing. Conclusion: Majority of national pharmaceuticals as well as prescribers were involved in unethical drug promotion and prescribing respectively. There is a need of curbing the unethical drug promotion and prescribing and formidable policies governing this issue are required to be implemented by the concerned regulatory authorities to avoid unnecessary harm to the patient’s life and pocket. Strength and weakness of study: The study explored the drug promotion and prescribing practices for the first time in a developing country however, due to sensitivity of the topic a number of respondents hesitated to participate.
Key words: Drug, Drug detailing, CME, Medical sales representative, Physicians, Pakistan.