Independent body should control new drug info: consumer watchdog
AGGRESSIVE drug advertising targeted at GPs could be curbed by making pharmaceutical companies pool their marketing budgets and fund an independent education body, says a consumer watchdog.
According to CHOICE, current methods of pharmaceutical promotion, including advertisements in publications such as MO, were not in the best interests of patients.
The report claimed that pharmaceutical companies marketed their newest and more expensive drugs to GPs, which was influencing prescribing decisions. The report’s case study on hypertension drugs revealed GPs were prescribing branded products ahead of the cheaper – yet unadvertised – generic medicines.
CHOICE health policy officer Michael Johnston said GPs didn’t have time to review all the medical literature available.
“When you look at the amount of promotion by pharmaceutical companies versus the amount of independent information – I don’t think people can be sure of [their doctor’s impartiality].”
According to CHOICE, pharmaceutical companies should fund a ‘blind trust’ that would have the ultimate responsibility for dissemination of objective information and education materials on new products.
The idea was dismissed by Medicines Australia. CEO Ian Chalmers called the report a “scare campaign to induce disquiet in the general community”, adding that patients’ medicines should be assessed by a prescriber and “not a publishing company”.