Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Should There Be a Free Market in Healthcare Information?

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 15 (1):42-49 (2006)
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On June 3, 2003, the European Council of health ministers rejected a proposal from the European Commission to allow drug manufacturers to advertise directly to particular groups of patients; the proposal had already been rejected by the European Parliament subsequent to a heated public debate in which consumer and patient groups almost unanimously argued that it was not the role of drug companies to provide information to patients. The pilot scheme suggested by the Commission would only have applied to patients with three chronic diseases, AIDS, diabetes, and asthma, and would, it was argued, not undermine an overall ban. Drug companies would have been required to abide by a special code of conduct and clear any information given to patients—on web sites or in specialized publications—with national authorities.



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