In 2000, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry held a projected 314,022 meetings and events for physicians, 11% more than in 1995, according to the Physician Meeting & Event Audit (PMEA) by Scott-Levin, Newtown, Penn. Physicians accepted almost half (48%) of all event invitations in 2000, about the same rate as in 1999.

Some trends from the audit:

Interest in the topic was the biggest motivator for accepting invitations, cited by 72% of attending doctors. Also important were a convenient location (49%) and honoraria (46%).

Specialists most likely to accept invitations were allergists/immunologists, ear/nose/throat specialists and endocrinologists. However, these specialty groups generally received fewer invitations. Least likely to attend events were cardiologists, primary care physicians and pediatricians.

Since PMEA was launched in 1993, continuing medical education credits have consistently remained a conundrum. About a quarter of 2000 event invitations offered CME credits, but doctors were more likely to accept invitations to meetings without CME (52%) than to meetings that offered the credits (44%). Possible reasons for this: Physicians have access to CME credits from many other sources, and given their limited time are more likely to be attracted to events for their social or entertainment value.

Branded products were the topic of 77% of all events, while 8% were for general therapeutic areas and 15% were for company image. More than half of the attendees at restaurant and hotel meetings (51% and 55%, respectively) said they intended to begin or increase prescribing of a promoted product. But only 47% of physicians attending events at ``other locations'' said they would boost prescribing.

For additional information, visit Scott-Levin's website.

Scott-Levin, a part of Quintiles Informatics, provides consulting services to more than 100 U.S. and international pharmaceutical clients. These services monitor key areas such as product promotion, industry trends, retail pharmacy activity, market performance, managed care and government affairs.