by Tracy Stanton
Pharma marketers who’d been sharpening their pencils for new campaigns in Europe can stop now. The European Commission appears ready to tighten restrictions on patient communications and not give drugmakers more license as some officials had suggested.
The proposed rules would allow drug information only in specific places, such as on drug packaging, official labels, usage instructions and so on. No drug information on websites, as some had suggested. No pharma campaigns in health-oriented publications. “A publication in general print media will not be permitted,” the new proposal states. Most communications would have to undergo prior review by health authorities, European Voice reports.
No way, say drugmakers, to counterbalance iffy online counsel with company-sanctioned information. “Those citizens seeking information on their disease or therapy should be able to access it in both user-friendly formats and in their own language,” a European industry group said (as quoted by Reuters).
But a public health organization applauded the restrictions. “The previous proposal was just a disguised way of giving pharmaceutical companies enough flexibility to promote their products directly to the public,” the European Public Health Alliance said in a statement.
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What do you think? Do Pharma companies have the right to advertise directly to patients? What responsibilities, if any, do they have to health care consumers?