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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 547

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

Lexchin J.
Enforcement of codes governing pharmaceutical promotion: what happens when companies breach advertising guidelines?
CMAJ 1997 Feb 1; 156:(3):351-6


Some or all of the promotional activities of pharmaceutical companies are typically governed through self-regulatory codes administered by industry associations. However, the conflicts between the commercial objectives and the ethical and scientific goals of promotion can potentially lead to serious weaknesses in the way in which these codes are enforced. This paper focuses on 5 critical aspects involved in the enforcement of codes governing pharmaceutical promotion: mechanisms for recognizing violations, composition of monitoring committees, sanctions for code violations, the quantity and quality of information in reports issued about complaints and code violations, and the circulation these reports receive. The Code of Marketing Practices of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC) has serious weaknesses in all of these areas. Although the Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board’s Code of Advertising Acceptance avoids many of the deficiencies of the PMAC code, it, too, has weaknesses. Proposals for strengthening the enforcement of both codes are offered.


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