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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

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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Email a Friend influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society’s public-health interests…
A small group known as Healthy Skepticism; formerly the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing) has consistently and insistently drawn the attention of producers to promotional malpractice, calling for (and often securing) correction. These organisations [Healthy Skepticism, Médecins Sans Frontières and Health Action International] are small, but they are capable; they bear malice towards no one, and they are inscrutably honest. If industry is indeed persuaded to face up to its social responsibilities in the coming years it may well be because of these associations and others like them.
- Dukes MN. Accountability of the pharmaceutical industry. Lancet. 2002 Nov 23; 360(9346)1682-4.