Drug Advertisement Ban Upheld in Europe

In October of 2002 the European Parliament voted against plans to allow pharmaceutical companies to market or showcase drugs straight to patients with certain conditions. Catherine Stihler, Labour's health spokesman within the European Parliament, said: "We do not 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. Essentially drug companies won't be able to market prescription medicines direct towards the public. The most recent reports appeared inside 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. PillsJackie Glatter, spokeswoman for the Consumers' Association, said: "What patients need is top quality, independent, comparative facts about medicines so they have the ability to make informed choices about their health care." An investigation published earlier in 2002 suggested how the pharmaceutical marketplace is not capable of providing impartial facts about its medicines and that such information should only originate from independent sources. "Today's decision sends a definite message to the pharmaceutical industry that drug promotion isn't the same as high quality information." Glatter said: "The government now must make a plan to significantly improve patient information. It has to also prevent further industry attempts to circumvent the ban." The Consumers' Association also suggested advertising can lead to over-prescribing of expensive and heavily advertised drugs and the under-use of cheaper, more effective drugs.

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