Health Groups Dismiss Drug Ads Report As 'Biased'

A report by the European Commission (EC), which favours weaker regulatory standards on the advertising of prescription drugs, has been dismissed as biased by a coalition of consumer groups and health professionals. The EC report states that the "pharmaceutical industry possesses the key information on their medicines but this information can currently not be made available to patients and healthcare professionals." However, supporters of the current ban on direct-to-consumer advertising argue that drug companies often under-emphasize the potentially serious side-effects associated with prescription drugs. "Increasingly frequent health scandals are on-going reminders of the medical and legal dangers of excessive promotion of new medicines," Health Action International, the Medicines in Europe Forum, and the International Society of Drug Bulletins wrote in an open letter to the EC. Members of the public have until June 30 to respond to the EC's document on 'patient information'.