The case of a judge granting an injunction to prevent a group of medical professionals publishing a critical review of the herbal drug Tebonin has the editor of a major drug bulletin worried. The editor of Australian Prescriber, John Dowden, notes that in two other instances where drug companies sued drug bulletins, the judgements favoured the publishers.
A coalition of European health groups, including the International Society of Drug Bulletins and the Medicines in Europe Forum, is alarmed at a renewed campaign by the drug industry to lift the ban on direct-to-consumer advertising in Europe.
The drug industry is hopeful that it will succeed in watering down the European Union's ban on direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceuticals. Draft proposals from a working group, which includes members of the European Commission and the drug industry, have proposed a public-private partnership to provide patient "information" on prescription medicines.
Although the pharmaceutical company Merck spent $21 million on a 20-month investigation led by a former U.S. district judge, the report's conclusion that "executives at Merck had not knowingly put Vioxx patients in cardiovascular danger" may not boost the drugmaker's sagging reputation. "Some critics say the report is not credible because of Merck's board's involvement" and point out that Debevoise & Plimpton, the firm whose lawyers carried out the study, has a "pro-corporate" reputation.
The major industry lobby group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has retained Qorvis Communications "for a national PR campaign to educate the public about the good work done by drug companies and the important role they play in developing n