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Consumers Inject Silence Into Drug Advertising

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Consumers Inject Silence Into Drug Advertising

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) calls on the Ministry of Health to ban direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medication. In its submission to the Ministry, the majority of NCWNZ members indicated their support for the banning of this form of advertising, which many felt was invasive.

"The advertising of prescription medication is not limited to television or internet advertising, but is also being directed at NGOs, thinly veiled as consultation," said Christine Low, National President, NCWNZ.

NCWNZ has had first-hand experience of direct to consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies. Recently the NCWNZ National Office was contacted by a communications agency commissioned by CSL, the producers of a drug aimed specifically at women, with a view to enlisting the Council's aid in promoting the treatment to its membership. Presentation meetings for NGOs and health practitioners were to be held in Auckland and Wellington by CSL and the company also sought to publicise the treatment via the NCWNZ membership newsletter, “The Circular”. Access to the NCWNZ Health Standing Committee, which is responsible for preparing NCWNZ's submissions on legislation and other forms of Government policy, was also requested.

"We are particularly concerned by the vigorous nature of some pharmaceutical companies, which consider it appropriate to not only lobby Government on the retention of DTCA, but also seek to lobby community-based advocacy groups," said Low. "NCWNZ is not in the business of opening its "policy arm" to corporations with a financial vested interest in "potential" treatments, particularly in advance of Medsafe approval."

"The value of DTCA to the consumer is not off-set by the costs," concluded Christine Low.


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