Editorial Opposes European Commission Proposals

Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin editorial warns against loosening restrictions on drug promotion
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The United Kingdom should not accept new proposals from the European Commission that would allow drug companies to provide information about prescription-only drugs over the Internet and in some print publications, according to an editorial published in the August issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.

Timed to coincide with an August public consultation on the issue conducted by the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the editorial warns about the difficulties of distinguishing between the provision of non-promotional information and direct-to-consumer advertising, which would still be prohibited in the European Union. It also cites lax regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising in the United States.

The editorial states concerns that acceptance of the European Commission's proposals would result in promotional information about prescription drugs being presented to the public even though it would be billed as being purely informational. It also raises the concern that the regulatory bodies may not be able to effectively police the dissemination of information.

"There is a need for independent, reliable information to enable people to make informed choices about treatment," the authors write. "However, pharmaceutical companies' inherent conflict of interest means it is naive to expect them ever to provide such information."


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