Ethical Issues in Pharmaceutical Marketing: A Systematic Review and Future Research Agenda

Yam B. Limbu, Bruce A. Huhmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This systematic review of cross-disciplinary peer-reviewed quantitative research into pharmaceutical marketing ethical issues from 1990 to 2021 reveals a focus on direct-to-consumer advertising and physician-directed promotion. This review documents inconsistent findings across studies due to discrepancies and limitations in research designs, study populations, sampling procedures, and analytical approaches as well as discipline-specific biases and normative ethical ideologies. We present a comprehensive taxonomy of ethical issues from the systematic review, additional scholarly and industry publications, and expert interviews. We recommend that future research test causal inferences, use rigorous research designs, explore under-researched topics, resolve conflicting findings, and incorporate ethical theories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Global Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Pharmaceutical and medical ethics
  • direct-to-consumer advertising
  • ethical issues with pharmaceutical sales representatives
  • marketing mix
  • physician-directed promotions
  • systematic review


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