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Drug therapy is an integral component of modern medical care, and practising physicians are faced with the difficult task of keeping up with rapid changes in pharmacologic treatments. Recent evidence indicates that prescribing practice is often inconsistent with criteria for safety and effectiveness. Surveys indicate that community-based physicians are not satisfied with current sources of information on prescription drugs. The dissemination of printed material alone does not lead to improved prescribing practice, but specific education and feedback strategies can. To improve prescribing practice in Canada we need to systematically evaluate strategies to change prescribing behaviour, to design quality assurance programs based on proven strategies and to develop collaboration and cooperation among providers, manufacturers, governments and the public.