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Prescrire’s proposals for France’s national conference on medicines policy

Prescrire has accepted an invitation from the French government to participate in a national conference on medicines policy, organised in the wake of the Mediator scandal. By revealing numerous malfunctions in the medicines chain, the scandal over the weight-loss drug has sparked a crisis of confidence between patients and the healthcare professions, one that requires everyone's attention and energy.

Prescrire’s 57 proposals are available at http://english.prescrire.org/en/81/168/46838/0/NewsDetails.aspx

 

In the wake of France's Mediator scandal, Prescrire offers 57 proposals on how to get medicines policy back on course.

The public health disaster caused in France by Mediator (benfluorex) demonstrated just how inadequate the regulation of the market for medicines is, and how serious the human consequences.

Prescrire has proposed a series of measures to protect the public from any more drugs like Mediator, and more generally to get medicines policy back on course, with priority given to patients' health needs and to public health.

These recommendations are based on Prescrire’s experience and analysis over the past 30 years, as expressed in a large number of articles published in our French and English editions. They share many of the recommendations made in the French Senate report written by Ms. Hermange and Ms. Payet (2006) and the National Assembly report by Ms. Lemorton (2008).

Prescrire’s proposals have been drawn up in the context of the “Assises du medicament”. This national conference on medicines policy has been convened to discuss what changes ought to be made in light of the multiple failures of the system observed in the Mediator disaster.

Prescrire’s proposals to France’s national conference on medicines policy: patients' interests and public health should come first

More stringent criteria for marketing authorisation

> Proposals 1-3

Public financing for continuing education and information about medicines

> Proposal 4

Strong expertise on the part of regulatory agencies and other authorities dealing with medicines

> Proposals 5-10

Widespread transparency amongst agencies and other authorities dealing with medicines

> Proposals 11-19

Robust, proactive pharmacovigilance

> Proposals 20-33

Initial training of healthcare professionals free from industry influence

> Proposals 34-40

Continuing education of healthcare professionals truly devoted to improving practices

> Proposals 41-45

Quality information for the general public, to foster joint decision-making by patients and healthcare professionals

> Proposals 46-52

Professional practices first and foremost in the interest of patients

> Proposals 53-57

More details of the proposals is available at http://english.prescrire.org/en/81/168/46838/0/NewsDetails.aspx

 

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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909