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Published on 1 April 2009

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Put patients first says drug report

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Governments in hock to “big pharma” must do more to act in the interests of patients and the public, according to a report in BMJ online.

It says in countries where drug companies are major contributors to the economy, governments must do more to put patients before the demands of the industry.

For a start, say authors Silvio Garattini and Iain Chalmers, there must be major changes in the way drugs are evaluated to ensure that health services get a better deal.

They note that while the industry highlights the cost of developing new drugs, it is the public that actually provides most of the support for developing and evaluating them.

They suggest four ways to favour patients and health services: involve them in the research agenda; make transparency a legal requirement; fund independent evaluations; and make all new drugs clearly demonstrate any claimed added value.

They conclude: “It remains to be seen how far governments are prepared to go in promoting changes designed to serve the interests of patients and health services more effectively, and how far the drug industry is prepared to go in acknowledging that its current ways of working are not as effective as they might be, scientifically or financially.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

bmj



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