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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16977

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

Wipatayotin A
Muzzling the drug giants
Bangkok Post 2009 Dec 20

Full text:

Curbing the influence of pharmaceutical firms on doctors topped the agenda of the three-day National Health Assembly which ended yesterday.

A better regulation was needed to govern the promotional activities and the sale of medicine to solve the problem of unnecessary and excess drug prescription by physicians, the annual health forum was told.

Unethical sales of drugs were among 11 health-related issues discussed during the second National Health Assembly (NHA2009).

Suwit Wibulpolprasert, the assembly’s chairman, said the problem of over-prescription was rampant and worrying.

There are doctors who only place orders with a firm offering them lucrative inducement packages in return, such as overseas trips and expensive gifts.

“We need to have a regulation which would require these drug firms’ sponsorship to doctors to be made public,” said Dr Suwit. He said a group of experts were working on a bill to prevent a conflict of interest between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. When ready, it would be submitted to the national drug system development panel, chaired by the prime minister, for consideration.

Dr Suwit has recommended that an independent body be set up to monitor and report the unethical behaviour of doctors and concerned agencies until the enforcement of the new law.

Thailand spends over 100 billion baht annually on medicine purchases, or about 30% of the total cost of health care services.

Increasing the liquor tax was also proposed and the suggestion would be sent to the National Health Commission and the cabinet.

Thailand produces 260,000 new drinkers each year. Amphon Jindawatthana, secretary general of the National Health Commission Office, said the public is a key player in pushing for sound health policies and regulations.

“We should not wait only for the state agencies to act. People have the power to bring about a better health protection scheme,” he said.


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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