Patients are increasingly turning to friends and family for advice on prescription drugs, as a result of an increasing distrust in doctors and medical research when seeking information on the effectiveness of therapeutic drugs. This is according to the findings of a major project published recently.
More time is required for GPs to discuss prescription drugs with patients during appointments, say leading figures at the Academy of Medical Sciences. At the same time, the way in which information is communicated through patient leaflets is slammed as “impenetrable”. The report suggests that less than 50% of patients complete courses of treatment, with leaflets failing to explain in clear English what the drug is supposed to do. Additionally the list of side-effects is in many cases “long and off-putting.”
Researchers led by Professor Sir John Tooke commissioned surveys of the public and GPs and found growing doubts among both about the quality of published medical research.
A ComRes poll of 2,000 people found that just 37% trusted medical trials to give them good information about drugs - while 65% trusted friends and family.
A poll of 1,000 GPs found that 82% believed that industry-funded trials of medicines were biased. This was greater than the 67% of the public who also believed this.
Professor Tooke said: “The results are a cause for deep concern and signal the need for concerted action, whilst the Royal College of GPs have said it would be hard for doctors to spend more time with patients in the present system, which would suggest a significant shake-up is required.