I Don't Want My Pharma TV

"Amid strenuous lobbying across Europe" to end restrictions on direct-to-consumer drug advertising, four pharmaceutical companies are considering launching their own television station. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis and Procter & Gamble envision "Pharma TV" as "a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features," reports Sarah Boseley. The companies are calling it the "European Patient Information Channel," and say its "on demand" drug information would "enable patients and citizens to make better decisions." The pharmaceutical industry wants "direct access" to European patients, and is backed "by a number of influential patient groups that are themselves heavily funded by drug companies." Independent groups under the International Society of Drug Bulletins warn that industry messages tend to focus on "relatively few top sellers, exaggerating effects and concealing risks, confusing patients and putting pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs they would not use otherwise."