Drug firms and patient groups join in fight to overturn advertising ban - Guardian
Further about pharmaceutical companies wanting to advertise their drugs directly to the public in Europe.
"Drug companies in Europe, faced with declining sales and a shortage of new products, appear to be making ground in their attempt to enlist a major new ally in their struggle for profits - the patient.
Sales soared in the US after companies were allowed to advertise their prescription medicines on TV and radio and in magazines and newspapers. Patients in America began demanding more drugs and specific, expensive brand-name drugs from their doctors. Now the firms want to target the UK in the same way, and are strongly challenging a ban on direct consumer advertising in the EU.
This has been tried before. In 2002, there was an attempt to persuade the European parliament to allow companies to launch "disease awareness campaigns", which critics believed would encourage people to believe they were sick and lead to demand for new drugs from doctors.
Then, as now, industry was aligned with certain patient groups which it funds."
"The European parliament refused to weaken the advertising rules five years ago. But the industry, with the backing of drug company-funded patient groups and a few vocal MEPs, has again succeeded in persuading the European commission that the rules need reform, and it is now discussing how this could be done."
"Recent scandals, such as the heart deaths linked to the arthritis painkiller Vioxx, "are potent reminders that pharmaceutical companies often minimise or even fail to disclose adverse effects", they said.
"In a fiercely competitive marketplace, pharmaceutical manufacturers naturally have an obligation to their shareholders to realise profits from sales. They must therefore promote their own drugs rather than other preventative or treatment options. As a result, pharmaceutical companies are utterly incapable of providing the reliable comparative information needed by patients.""
The Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks was founded by the drug company Bristol Myers Squibb in March 1997, bringing together 12 organisations including Depression Alliance from the UK. GAMIAN-Europe, registered in Belgium, does not detail its funding on its website, apart from acknowledging drug company grants for specific projects. It told the Guardian that nearly half (45%) of its €234,000 (£160,000) income in 2006 came from Eli Lilly, manufacturers of Prozac. Other antidepressant makers also contributed. Lundbeck sponsorship was 26% of the group's income, Pfizer 11%, GlaxoSmithKline 6% and Wyeth 1%. Just 2% came from membership subscriptions."
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