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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19869

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

Misleading promotions in Australia
Scrip 1997 Dec 26;


Abstract:

In attempt to bring about a response to its complaints to the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administrations on misleading drug promotions, the Medical Lobby for Appropriate Marketing (MaLAM) has written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission asking it to investigate the issues.

It is over a year since it lodged a complaint with the Therapeutics Goods Administration about alleged misleading promotion of Coversyl (perindopril) and Adifax (dexfenfluramine) by Servier, but there has still been no outcome, MaLAM says in its newsletter.

It claims that misleading promotion of Coversyl is continuing and points out that following the publication of a letter from MaLAM in The Lancet in May 1996 about the issue, the UK Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority examined promotion of Coversyl in the UK. A ruling of misleading promotion followed.

MaLAM suggests that the UK PMCPA has the same role as the Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association code of conduct subcommittee in Australia, and yet the UK code is more advanced. It believes there is no justification for “essentially the same companies operating under lower standards in this country compared with the UK”.

Adifax was taken off the market were not informed appropriately about the safety issues by Servier, MaLAM says. It has asked the ACCC to investigate the lack of provision of adequate warnings and points to the recommendations made in November by the US Department of Health on fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine as a good model.

…APMA Code of Conduct reporting

It is also seeking assistance from the ACCC on what it considers to be lack of public reporting of the APMA code of conduct subcommittee’s activities. MaLAM and the APMA have communicated on the matter but MaLAM is not satisfied with the responses it has received from the APMA.

A Code of Conduct annual report was released in September which includes details of each complaint, the response, the details of each complaint, the response, the decision and rationale of the code of conduct subcommittee and the sanctions imposed, the APMA told Scrip.

In a letter to the director of the Liaison and Industry Unit of the ACCC the APMA said that responses have been made to each item raised by MaLAM in its newsletter or its has referred matters to the code of conduct subcommittee for adjudication.

…living document
The Code of Conduct is a “living document” that should be continually improved, the APMA said. A number of amendments have already been suggested and will be proposed to the membership for adoption. Issues such as electronic prescribing are being investigated and consultations are being made with other organizations such as the government-funded Pharmaceutical Health and Rational Use of Medicines Committee.

The APMA says it has extended and continues to extend an open invitation to MaLAM to discuss their concerns, but that MaLAM has not accepted the offer.

 

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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education