The use of peer reviewed journal articles in the pharmaceutical industry

Medical and scientific publications form the building blocks of any communication activity with healthcare professionals. The publication peer-review process and the 3rd party endorsement provided by expert authorship are key factors in endorsing the value and credibility of the medicines that come through the company’s R&D activities.

The distribution of medical journal articles from peer-reviewed publications is an excellent way to promote the science of medicine and this ultimately benefits patients. These articles are educational and contain essential information to assist the prescriber in making the right choice of medication for the patient.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s 2009 industry guidance titled “Good Reprint Practices for the Distribution of Medical Journal Articles and Medical or Scientific Reference Publications…” recognises that “public health can be served when healthcare professionals receive truthful and non-misleading medical information as medical journal articles on licensed uses of a product”.

Medical journal articles may be distributed to healthcare professionals in a variety of formats. Apart from the traditional paper reprint format which is still widely used, there are now alternative and complementary delivery methods through digital media. E-print delivery to electronic devices and websites allows greater flexibility in access and usage. Whether embedded into brand sites or provided as sales rep support on hand-held devices, they can be enhanced with additional features such as text highlights and audio/ video discussions on key issues. They also allow usage to be tracked, providing valuable marketing information for the provider. Regardless of delivery method, it is important to ensure regulation-compliant distribution. Respect for intellectual property rights remains crucial to the continuing success of journal publishing and the party responsible for the provision of content must also take care to clear copyright and licenses with the publishers.

While some articles may have been published as “open access”, this generally does not allow the commercial distribution of the article in any format without permission from and payment to the publisher.

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