AGE applauds the EU Health Council decision to maintain a ban on advertisement for prescription-only medicines

10 June 2008

AGE – the European OlderPeople’s Platform fully supports the decision of the Council of EU Health Ministers on Tuesday 10 June to maintain the ban on advertising on prescription-only medicines, to give patients clear and complete information, and to leave it to the professionals in the health sector and national health authorities to provide information to patients.

AGE finds it crucial that citizens have access to information on prescription-only medicines provided that this information is objective, neutral, reliable, appropriate, clear and complete, and that it is given by the relevant health actors: doctors, pharmacists, and national health ministries.

As a network representing the largest consumer group of prescription drugs (i.e. older people), AGE sees a real public health danger as well as a risk of increased public spending if pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to advertise directly to the consumer.

In AGE’s view, information provided by the pharmaceutical companies can never be objective, as their aim is to boost sales of medicinal products, and one cannot be judge and party at the same time. The risk inherent in advertising is that patients would be exposed to the excessive promotion of new medicinal products, and, as the example of the US shows, this would lead to an increased demand for medicines which they do not necessarily need.

“Over consumption of medicines is a widespread problem among older people. The health of EU citizens should not be jeopardised for commercial objectives. Policies are needed to promote the rational consumption of medicines and the adoption of healthier lifestyles” comments Anne-Sophie Parent, director of AGE.

AGE hopes that the Commission will take the opinion of the EU Health Ministers into account in its future Communication on information to patients.
Joint Letter to ESPCO Council 10 June 2008

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