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Call For Full Disclosure Of Drug Company Gifts

3 September 2002

Kedgley Calls For Full Disclosure Of Gifts From Drug Companies

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called on the Minister of Health to introduce regulations requiring drug companies to disclose all gifts and cash payments to doctors, hospitals and health providers.

Ms Kedgley said full disclosure is needed following recent revelations from Pharmac that drug companies are increasingly targeting New Zealand doctors to encourage them to prescribe specific drugs.

"This is an extremely worrying trend that must be stopped," said Ms Kedgley.

Last year the Minister of Health acknowledged that some drug companies are paying for doctors' visits, offering free pharmaceuticals and targeting individual patients.

"The increasing pressure from pharmaceutical companies on doctors to prescribe particular medicines will, if unchecked, raise conflict of interest issues and undermine consumer confidence in the impartiality of doctors and the appropriateness of their prescribed medications.

"The Greens think New Zealand should follow the lead of some US States such as Vermont and Minnesota where legislation has been passed requiring drug companies to fully disclose all gifts and cash payments to all health providers," said Ms Kedgley.

"I am also alarmed at how drug companies are pushing their products to consumers directly. Over the last year there have been 18 prescription-only drugs advertised directly to consumers through the media, compared to just 10 drugs being advertised over the last three years.

Ms Kedgley called on Annette King to review her decision to allow drug companies to advertise direct to consumers and, at the very least, to tighten regulations around this type of advertising as she had promised to do more than a year ago.

"Consumers should not be going to doctors demanding drugs that have been pitched to them through television and doctors should not be pressured by drug companies to prescribe one drug over another.

"Currently consumers should feel alarmed that both of these things are going on and that, as a result, they may not be getting the treatment that is the best or most appropriate for them," said Ms Kedgley.

Sue will ask oral question number 10 on this issue in parliament today


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