PRESCRIBE, a tool for appraising pharmaceutical industry-sponsored presentations

pharmaceutical industry

A systematic, easy-to-use tool for physicians when appraising the quality and objectivity of information presented during educational presentations sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. If you need them for these presentations that is. We have abolished these kind of presentations during residency training but residents also attend symposium with pharma sponsored speakers. So to enhance the instructions for appraisal of these talks the acronym PRESCRIBE was invented as I found in a recent publication in the Canadian Family Physician.

PRESCRIBE is an easy-to-remember “checklist” for physicians to use when attending a drug industry–sponsored presentation in order to gauge the degree to which they might have been influenced to prescribe the company’s product whether or not the product is truly indicated

PRESCRIBE stands for:

  • Presenter. Who is presenting? Is it a pharmaceutical representative speaking or showing a video? Is it an “expert” invited by the drug company?
  • Relationship building. During the educational session, how much time and energy is dedicated to formal and informal rapport building between the pharmaceutical representatives and the attendees?
  • Evidence base. Does the presented material reflect a balanced representation of the literature on the topic?
  • Samples. Do attendees receive drug samples or other company promotional materials?
  • Charts and graphs. Do the visual materials present study results in a misleading fashion?
  • Restrictions in funding. Did the drug company provide an unrestricted educational grant for the session?
  • Incentives. Is some kind of promotional incentive (eg, a meal, movie admission, round of golf) provided by the company to help increase attendance?
  • Branding. How strong is the presence of either company or product names and logos, or both, during the visual and spoken components of the session?
  • Emotional response. What is your overall gut reaction during and after the talk?


How to score these items?

When using the acronym, apply a subjective score of 0 to 2 to each item on the checklist. A lower total score likely reflects a presentation with a higher degree of objectivity and accuracy with respect to the content presented or fewer drug company promotional strategies to influence an audience member into prescribing or using its product.

I thinks this is useful for training residents and medical students to get the discussion going about big pharma and science. Furthermore I direct them to the Carlat Psychiatry Blog for further examples and instructions