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EC plans to limit medicine information

The European Commission has adopted revised proposals to clarify the level of information that the pharmaceutical industry can supply to the public about prescription-only medicines

The European Commission (EC) has adopted revised proposals to clarify the level of information that the pharmaceutical industry can supply to the public about prescription-only medicines.

The plans, which maintain the current advertising ban on prescription-only medicine, amend original proposals made in 2008 in response to requests from the European Parliament concerning people's increased use of the internet for drug information.

Under the updated proposals, information on prescription-only medicines would only be allowed through limited channels of communication, including officially registered internet websites.  Printed information made would also be available when specifically requested by members of the public.

The type of information is for prescription-only medicines would be limited too, with permitted information including details contained on the label and information about prices; clinical trials; or on instructions for use.

The information must also fulfil recognised quality criteria, including being evidence-based and unbiased. Information which has not been approved before needs to be verified by authorities before being published.

John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said: "The revised proposals put rights, interests and safety of patients first. They oblige industry to provide certain key information to patients and set clear rules for additional, voluntary information on prescription medicines. In addition, they further strengthen the control of authorised medicines."

In his response, Monika Kosinska, secretary general of European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), said: "EPHA welcomes the new tone of the proposal which has taken the public health perspective on board. We congratulate Commissioner Dalli for producing a revised version of the proposal. However we remain cautious of the man derogations and hope that this is resolved in discussions with the European Parliament and the Council."

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) also responded, saying it 'welcomed' the proposals that followed the European Parliament's 'constructive and overall pragmatic' recommendations to improve European patients' access to information on prescription medicines.

The industry body said: 'EFPIA and its member companies have made it clear that they do not wish to see any "push" of information on specific prescription medicines via TV, radio or print mass-media. However, 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.'

11th October 2011

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