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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19161

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: Journal Article

Poser M
DTCA of prescription medicines in the European Union: is there still a need for a ban?
Eur J Health Law 2010 Dec; 17:(5):471-84


The pharmaceutical sector is one of
the main markets in the European
Union. The consumption of medicines
is high and steadily increasing.
However, the pharmaceutical market
is subject to a wider range of
restrictions than almost any other
sector. The restrictions mainly
apply to information provision and
advertising practice within the
community. One of the main features
in pharmaceutical regulation is the
ban on direct-to-consumer
advertising (DTCA) of prescription
medicines. However, an abolition of
the ban is controversial in the
European Community, especially as
the pharmaceutical industry keeps
pleading for its ability to use the
highly effective marketing strategy
of DTCA to promote prescription
medicines to the general public.
Such advertising is only allowed in
two jurisdictions in the world, New
Zealand and the United States. In
both systems the impact of DTCA on
the consumer and the economy has
been subject to research. The
outcome of these studies is outlined
in this article. Since the European
Commission has provided a new
proposal to amend the current
information practice regarding
prescription medicines in 2008
(European Commission, Proposal for a
Directive of the European Parliament
and of the Council Amending, as
Regards Information to the General
Public on Medicinal Products Subject
to Medical Prescription, Directive
2001/83/EC on the Community Code
Relating to Medicinal Products for
Human Use, COM/2008/0663 final) it
is time to examine different options
to regulate the provision of
information and discuss the need for
a ban of DTCA.


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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