Policy Tip Sheet – Academic Drug Detailing

Published April 12, 2012

In this policy tip from Heartland, a report is highlighted about the pharmaceutical industry known as academic drug detailing. Through its academic drug detailing policy, the federal government will fund academics to reach out to physicians and specifically encourage them to prescribe generic medications and those of similar low cost. This academic drug detailing differs from typical drug detailing, where representatives from pharmaceutical companies reach out to physicians, marketing different medications.

Pharmaceutical drug detailing is conducted at the expense of pharmaceutical companies, highlights new innovations in drug therapy, and leaves prescribing up to physician expertise. Academic drug detailers, paid with taxpayer funds, tell physicians which prescribing methods and medications are most “cost-effective,” encouraging the use of generic drugs regardless of whether specific medications would work better for patients. Academic drug detailing inserts government into the patient-physician relationship and stifles drug innovation. The federal health law’s comparative effectiveness research mandate threatens the quality of future pharmaceutical innovation as well as general health care.


However, these facts should not be forgotten:

  • Fact 1: Physicians already have access to objective drug compendia, like the Physicians’ Desk Reference.
  • Fact 2: According to a 2011 report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 80 percent of all prescriptions are already written for generics.
  • Fact 3: The federal government already stifles drug innovation and access. The FDA’s drug approval process takes up to ten years and costs more than $1 billion per drug.