Drug Advertisement Ban Upheld in Europe
In October of 2002 the European Parliament voted
against plans to allow pharmaceutical companies to
advertise or provide information
on drugs directly to
patients with certain conditions. Catherine Stihler,
Labour's health spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "We don't want
consumers sitting on their couches bombarded with a hard sell from big
drug companies in the advertising break."
A challenge to that ruling was upheld by the
European Union's Council of Ministers in a ruling that upheld the
restrictions. In effect drug companies will not be able to advertise
prescription medicines direct to the public. The latest reports appeared
in the June 3, 2003 BBC News World Report.
The BBC article noted that consumer organizations
welcomed the continuation of the ban on "direct to consumer" advertising.
Glatter, spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association, said: "What patients
need is high quality, independent, comparative information on medicines so
that they are able to make informed choices about their health care." A
report published earlier in 2002 suggested that the pharmaceutical
industry is incapable of providing impartial information on its medicines
and that such information should only come from independent sources.
"Today's decision sends a clear message to the
pharmaceutical industry that drug promotion is not the same as good
quality information." Glatter said: "The government now needs to take
steps to significantly improve patient information. It must also prevent
further industry attempts to circumvent the ban." The Consumers'
Association also suggested advertising may lead to over-prescribing of
expensive and heavily advertised drugs and the under-use of cheaper, more