BJGPO.2021.0057.full.pdf (797.83 kB)
Download file

GPs' perceptions of their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry: a qualitative study.

Download (797.83 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 04.11.2021, 17:07 authored by James LarkinJames Larkin, Ivana Pericin, Maurice Collins, Susan SmithSusan Smith, David ByrneDavid Byrne, Frank MoriartyFrank Moriarty

Background: The pharmaceutical industry invests heavily in promoting medications to physicians. This promotion may influence physicians' prescribing behaviour and lead to inappropriately increased prescribing rates.

Aim: To understand GPs' experience of interacting with the pharmaceutical industry, and explore their views and perceptions of the impact of this interaction in general practice in Ireland.

Design & setting: A qualitative design was used, and GPs practicing in Ireland were eligible.

Method: A combination of purposive and snowball sampling techniques was applied and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis was used to develop themes from the data.

Results: Twenty-one GPs and one GP trainee participated. Five themes were developed: 1) GP and pharmaceutical industry interface; 2) the industry's methods of influence; 3) the uncomfortable relationship between GPs and industry; 4) GPs' perceptions of being unconsciously influenced; and 5) GPs' lack of knowledge of relevant regulations.Participants interacted with pharmaceutical representatives in their surgery and through continuing professional development (CPD). Reported methods of influence included biased information and the offer of gifts. Most participants felt their prescribing was unconsciously influenced. A minority felt that they were only influenced in a way that improved their prescribing.

Conclusion: The study shows that there can be a lack of clarity among GPs about relevant regulations and about the potential impact on prescribing of interactions with the pharmaceutical industry. Education of trainees and GPs has the potential to address this. Restrictions on interactions with the pharmaceutical industry may also play a role, although alternative CPD funding sources would need to be established.


Health Research Board of Ireland (funding reference CDA-2018-003)

Health Research Board of Ireland (funding reference CDA-2018-005)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Larkin J, Pericin I, Collins M, Smith SM, Byrne D, Moriarty F. GPs' perceptions of their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry: a qualitative study. BJGP Open. 2021;5(5):BJGPO.2021.0057.

Publication Date

26 October 2021

PubMed ID



  • General Practice
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Population Health and Health Services


Royal College of General Practitioners


  • Published Version (Version of Record)