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Advertising of Prescription Medicines

3 March 2006

Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicines

The public is being asked for its views on the regulation of direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines (DTCA) in New Zealand.

Public consultation has begun on the Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicines in New Zealand: Consultation Document.The submissions will assist in providing advice to the Ministers of Health and State Services on policy options for the regulation of DTCA in New Zealand in the future.

The consultation document is being distributed to district health boards, professional organisations, government agencies, business and consumer groups, and individuals with an interest in the subject. The document will also be publicly available on the Ministry of Health's website.

DTCA is the advertising of prescription-only medicines or treatments to consumers. DTCA specifically advertises individual branded medicines for a specific condition. New Zealand and the United States are the only industrialised countries that allow DTCA.

DTCA policy in New Zealand is a contentious issue, and the adequacy of the current legislative and self-regulatory controls governing DTCA is a matter of public debate. DTCA in New Zealand is currently regulated under the Medicines Act 1981 and Medicines Regulations 1984. The Therapeutic Products Bill is set to repeal this legislation with the establishment of the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Authority.

Regardless of the decision on the future regulation of DTCA in New Zealand, it is proposed that the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Advertising Code come into force under the Therapeutic Products Authority. The introduction of new legislation to govern DTCA provides a timely opportunity to review DTCA regulations before legislation is introduced.

The consultation document reviews the policy debate on DTCA, bringing together the main issues and findings, together with the international situation. The document provides three options for the regulation of DTCA, which form a basis for comment by interested individuals and agencies on the future of DTCA in New Zealand.

The issue of DTCA regulation will be considered by the Ministers of Health and State Services once the Ministry of Health has finished its consultation and provided advice to joint Ministers on policy options for the regulation of DTCA in New Zealand in the future. Should tighter regulation of DTCA be supported, the matter will then be referred to Cabinet. If Cabinet supports amendments to the regulation of DTCA, these would be reflected in the Therapeutic Products Bill.

The DTCA consultation document is available on the Ministry of Health's website www.moh.govt.nz

Written submissions close at 5pm on Friday 28 April 2006. Submissions can be sent to:

DTCA consultation Sector Policy Directorate Ministry of Health PO Box 5013 WELLINGTON

ENDS

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