Drug Promotion to Docs on the Defensive

Apr 01, 2002

Canberra, Australia-The Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association has denounced calls from the country's media and some of its doctors to drastically curtail drug promotion. APMA chief executive Alan Evans says any such move would severely affect the healthcare of millions of people in Australia and could even result in premature death.

He adds, "We were shocked by the recent suggestion of one or two doctors that, even when life-saving medicines are approved by tough government regulations, patients should continue to suffer from further delays in accessing treatment. The regulation and approval processes for medicines in Australia are the strictest in the world. What our companies are allowed to tell doctors is very closely monitored."

Evans also points out that ethical marketing of medicines is controlled by a stringent code of conduct recognized by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as an excellent example of co-regulation.

The code of conduct committee is independent of the industry. Its membership includes a lawyer with trade practices experience, representatives of the Australian Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists, and consumers.

Evans describes peoples' complaints about pharma companies explaining their medications' benefits to doctors as "ridiculous." He asks, "How can patients have faith in the advice they are given about the best treatment if those who make the medicines are restricted from having contact with healthcare providers? At stake is our national medicines policy, universal access to the best and latest medicines, and quality of life for all Australians."

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