[Ip-health] HAI Europe Press Release - Redrafted proposals still contain loopholes for disguised advertising

Press HAI Europe Press at haieurope.org
Tue Oct 11 04:45:00 PDT 2011

Redrafted proposals still contain loopholes for disguised advertising

11 October 2011


The European Commission has today released a redrafted version of the
Information to Patients proposals[1]. These legislative proposals
include modifications to the regulations governing advertising of
prescription medicines in the European Union. 


"This document contains loopholes that open the door to advertising of
prescription drugs to the public disguised as "patient information". The
rewritten proposals may be misinterpreted and misused, although they
represent an improvement on the original version introduced by the
Commission in December 2008", says Teresa Alves, Coordinator at Health
Action International (HAI) Europe. 


What are the problems? 


* Printed materials prepared by the pharmaceutical companies could be
made available at pharmacies and physicians' practices; similarly
summaries of frequently asked questions on a particular product can be
prepared by the manufacturer and made available;  


* Pharmaceutical companies would still be allowed to refer medicinal
products in information materials on health and diseases, provided no
reference is made to a specific product. However, evidence from
awareness campaigns by the pharmaceutical industry in the Netherlands
shows that even when unbranded, information on health conditions can be
framed to support drug treatment and to increase the sales of a
particular product. 


* The implementation of clearance procedures at national level before
the dissemination of materials would be problematic. The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) in the USA has had difficulties in monitoring
pharmaceutical promotion due to lack of resources. Similar resource
difficulties and deficiencies in monitoring would be expected in most EU
member states. 

Why worry about it?


A body of research evidence has shown that pharmaceutical promotion has
a negative effect on the quality of prescribing and medicine use. This
negative effect is associated not only with information quality, but
also with choices concerning which products are and are not promoted.


Promotion of pharmaceutical products, whether disguised or not has been
shown to lead to higher expenditures for medicines without any
additional benefits to health or health care quality. It also raises
serious public health concerns as it stimulates widespread use of new
drugs before their potential for harm is fully known. 


HAI Europe supports consumer and patient rights to independent,
relevant, unbiased and comparative information about health, medicines
and treatment.


[1] (amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to
medicinal products for human use).  



For more information please contact : Teresa Alves  teresa at haieurope.org
<mailto:teresa at haieurope.org> 






Rose Higgins
Communication Officer

Health Action International (HAI) Europe

Overtoom 60, II

1054 HK Amsterdam

The Netherlands


Tel: +31 20 683 3684

Fax: +31 20 685 5002

Email: press at haieurope.org <mailto:c at haieurope.org> 

Website: http://www.haieurope.org <http://www.haiweb.org/> 


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Health Action International (HAI) is an independent, global network
working to increase access to essential medicines and improve their
rational use through research excellence and evidence-based advocacy.


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