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The New Relationship Between Nurses and Pharma

14 SEP 2012
Career Path : Healthcare

In an ideal, over-simplified world, there is a clear cut relationship between what is considered the three major players of the healthcare industry: doctors, medicine, and patients. As the pharmaceutical industry developed into a cluster of competing corporations, they have maintained their status by courting doctors and physicians in an attempt to inform them about their products, and perhaps influence them to prescribe them to patients. The methods of reaching out to doctors can range from information seminars to sponsored dinner galas and golf games.


In more recent times, the number of doctors and physicians who have good relationships with pharmaceutical companies has somewhat diminished. In order for these companies to keep the ability to inform about their products and influence the prescription rates, they have turned to another important group of healthcare professionals: nurses. There are two good reasons for this.


Prescription power


The first, and most important reason for this is that nurses, like doctors, are able to prescribe medication. This is not to imply that pharmaceutical companies are trying to take this responsibility out of the hands of doctors. But by allowing nurses the authority to prescribe medication in situations that do not warrant the time of a medical doctor, patients can get better information and quicker access to much needed prescription drugs.

The second major reason why this relationship is broadening is that nurses are more likely seek out information on pharmaceuticals on their own by using resources such as researching on the internet. Education does not stop with nursing courses, but sometimes continues independently with new developments and products. As pharmaceutical companies have woken up to the phenomenon of self-educating nurses, it is only reasonable that they should make their own effort to reach out to these professionals in offering their own educative messages.


Why this is good


The more information available to us as patients, no matter where that information comes from, is always beneficial. While we are able to go online and look up any symptom, illness or medication on websites like or, it might be difficult for us as non-medical professionals to understand the information and make the best decisions. By working closer with nurses who have more of a background education in this field, and have more time to talk with patients about their options, pharmaceutical companies have a better chance of getting their product used by the appropriate people for the best results.


Why this is bad


Nursing degrees don`t usually cover topics such as marketing. There is sometimes the risk that the interests of marketing and selling pharmaceuticals can override the interests of the patients. In some cases where pharmaceutical companies have more of an emphasis on influencing, rather than informing, they may take advantage of nurses to promote their products. This is in no way always the case, but it is a negative symptom that should be checked.


In the end, it is all about having the best information in the best hands. If the pharmaceutical and nursing industries can get together in a responsible exchange of information and product referral, the benefits will reach the patients, doctors and the rest of the healthcare industry.


Visit Mohawk College for information on pharmacy technician programs.