Drug firms could take advantage of a loophole in the law to advertise their products to the public if new European Commission (EC) proposals are accepted, an editorial published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) has said.
Prescription-only drugs cannot currently be advertised in the European Union, but new proposals from the EC would let drug companies present the public with information about their products through the internet or yet-to-be-defined “health-related publications”.
The DTB is worried that the proposals would allow companies to advertise to the public despite an EU-wide ban.
“A key concern about these ideas is the intrinsic difficulty in distinguishing between advertising of prescription-only medicines to the public (which would still be banned) and proactive provision of non-promotional information about such products,” said the editorial.
A public consultation, due to finish on August 14, is currently being conducted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. However, the UK medicines regulator is in support of the principle of allowing the pharmaceutical industry to provide patients with more information about medicines.
Copyright Press Association 2009