Anyone who has ever been to the United States, or watched commercials on American Television somehow, knows of the never-ending barrage of Pharmaceutical ads that have come to take over the gaps in between programming. They feature excessively clean and happy people walking through parks or high-fiving each other because some ailment they have has been cured by some brand name you should “ask your doctor about”. I can only imagine what its like to be a doctor in the United States today and have your patients coming up to you “asking about” a drug they saw on TV which they would like to have.
This has become the state of the American mediasphere, while over in the EU we still have in place relatively strong regulations preventing that kind of advertisement. Until now.
Ok perhaps the “until now” part makes things seem a little to dire, I would have done better to say that at this moment in time, the EU may relax its rules on Pharmaceutical and medical advertising. Relaxing doesn’t mean we’ve got old people holding hands and discussing pills to lower their cholesterol on TV. But what we do have is a potential break from the clear policy of no medical advertising in the media.
The information is not easy to come by, perhaps due to its complexity or vagueness, so it is not exactly being discussed by the major news outlets. What I’ve been able to gather at this point breaks down this way:
- The change in policy would “allow pharmaceutical companies to provide information directly to consumers”
- This was proposed in 2008, but put away soon thereafter due to strong criticism from member states.
- The information they provide would have to be factual, objective, and not seek to advertise prescription drugs.
- Any such information will go through a committee or a panel that will decide if it meets standards.
Of course many questions remain which I will now pose to various stakeholders and associations, regarding such a change. Is this taking the EU down the same path as the United States, towards bombarding citizens with clever and appealing visuals regarding what they should choose for when it comes to health and medicine? Is there a push now within EU institutions to pursue this as early as this year? While I’m at it, just how powerful and influencial is the pharmaceutical lobby in Brussels?
Hopefully very soon Ill have some answers which you’ll be able to find right here in a future post.