EC unveils plans for prescription drugs info

The European Commission has revealed plans for a pilot scheme to

provide 'validated and patient-oriented' information on prescription

drugs.



The test scheme, announced by commissioner Erkki Liikanen as part of a

review of EU pharmaceutical legislation two weeks ago, is to focus

exclusively on AIDS, diabetes and asthma treatments.



Denying widespread claims that the proposals marked the advent of

direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing, Liikanen said information would be

available to patients only when requested.



The decision to test the pilot scheme was prompted by fears that

European patients are being forced to rely on official and unofficial

information on ailments published on the internet in the US.



The EC intended to end the disparity in availability of information

favouring those with internet access and knowledge of the English

language.



Liikanen added that the marketing of products, which differ from those

available in the EU despite sharing a name, underlined the need for

readily available information.



The industry will be required to follow a code of conduct to be worked

out between member states when the legislation enabling the move is

drafted during the next year. The scheme is unlikely to be implemented

until July 2002.



Already four communications agencies from the Omnicom Group stable have

formed an alliance to capitalise on this market.



Leader, p12.



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