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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14775

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

White A.
EU to allow more information on prescription drugs
The Washington Post 2008 Dec 10
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/10/AR2008121001311.html


Full text:

The European Commission proposed uniform rules Wednesday on what information pharmaceutical companies can provide the public about their drugs.

Labeling rules now vary greatly within the EU, meaning patients in some countries get more information about the drugs they take than in other nations. The EU bans advertising of prescription drugs.

“Patients have become more independent (and) actively seek information” about drugs, the EU Commission said in a statement. “Consequently other sources of information are needed.”

It proposed that EU drugs makers be restricted in what they can say on packaging, leaflets and Web sites. They would be able to mention the price, the risks, verified data about the ailment the drug aims to relieve and the product’s environmental impact.

Manufacturers would not be able to promote a medicine or give information to people who haven’t asked for it.

Critics of the better-labeling plan still said it would effectively legalize such advertising and nudge patients away from cheaper generic medicines.

The British consumer advocacy group Which! said it worries that better information would become advertising, predicting a US-style situation “where people demand specific branded drugs from the doctor when cheaper, equally effective drugs are available,” it said.

Worried about the increasing number of counterfeit medicines sold in Europe, the EU Commission also suggested adding mandatory safety features _ such as product codes on packaging or seals that show a pack has been opened _ to verify and help trace medicines.

EU governments and the European Parliament will have to support the new rules _ and can make their own changes _ before they could enter into force.

The proposals are the EU’s first stab at reforming the pharmaceutical sector, where pricing and regulations still differ across the bloc.

 

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As an advertising man, I can assure you that advertising which does not work does not continue to run. If experience did not show beyond doubt that the great majority of doctors are splendidly responsive to current [prescription drug] advertising, new techniques would be devised in short order. And if, indeed, candor, accuracy, scientific completeness, and a permanent ban on cartoons came to be essential for the successful promotion of [prescription] drugs, advertising would have no choice but to comply.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963