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Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Harmful Says PHA

Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Harmful Says PHA
6 October 2006

The Public Health Association (PHA) is welcoming reports that the Government may soon ban direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines. Health Minister Pete Hodgson’s office has said that an announcement is likely within weeks.

PHA Director Dr Gay Keating says there is evidence that direct-to-consumer advertising causes harm.

“There are a number of concerns, including an effect on doctor-patient relationships – with patients putting pressure on doctors to prescribe specific medicines, and the ‘normalising’ of the use of medicine to improve health instead of lifestyle changes such as cutting back on fatty foods or exercising more.

“There is a risk that people will purchase pharmaceuticals based, not on what is best for their health, but on which company produces the most convincing advertisements. Rather than provide people with independent information on the risks and benefits, direct-to-consumer advertising focuses on creating a demand for specific products.

“People may end up paying for medicines that they don’t need, and that in the worst case scenario, may actually be harmful to them.”

She says the PHA believes a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising would be in the best interests of the New Zealand public.

“New Zealand is one of only two countries that allows this sort of advertising – and we need to come into line with the rest of the world.

“There is no benefit, and significant potential harm, in allowing direct-to-consumer advertising to continue in this country.”

ENDS

The Public Health Association of New Zealand is a non-party political voluntary association, which provides a major forum for the exchange of information and stimulation of debate about public health in New Zealand.

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