Dressing Drug Advertising up as "Information"

Medical researchers Les Toop and Dee Mangin caution that the European Union (EU) should learn from the experience of New Zealand and reject proposals to allow direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) of prescription drugs. For the last three years, the New Zealand government has been considering whether to ban or further restrict DTC advertising. Despite strong support for a ban among health professionals and independent patient groups, the drug and advertising industries have stalled any change. Toop and Mangin warn that DTC advertising in Europe "will not help consumers make better decisions about medicines but will increase the pharmaceuticalisation of health and will expose more of the population to new medicines (many of which offer little benefit over existing medicines) at a time when long term safety is unknown." They note that the proposal for allowing drug companies to communicate with patients in the EU "deliberately leaves out the word advertising," promising instead patient education.