Europe debates DTC

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The European Commission is planning to allow drug companies to “sidestep” the ban on advertising drugs to the public, the website of the UK's Guardian newspaper reports. 

The planned ruling would allow drug companies to give "information" about their drugs to the public on TV, the internet and print.

While consumer groups agree that better information is needed, they say one-sided information from a drug company is little more than advertising, according to the Guardian report. 

"The proposal is clearly driven by the pharmaceutical industry's commercial concerns -- not by the interests of patients," read a statement from patient advocacy group, the Picker Institute, in its response to the commission. “The plans enable companies to push information direct to patients and to use all available media to do that,” a group spokesman added.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Associations (EFPIA) claims it is not advocating for DTC advertising as a suitable model for Europe.

“(EFPIA) is of the opinion that such mass media would not be appropriate means for the industry to communicate information on specific prescription medicines to European citizens”, said Arthur Higgins, president of EFPIA and CEO Bayer HealthCare. “Meeting European citizens' growing demands for accessing high-quality information concerning their own health should remain our common goal. After years of debate, we call on all European institutions to develop a patient-centred EU framework for information provision without further delay.” 

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