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Advertising of medicines must be banned: Greens

Advertising of medicines must be banned: Greens

Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to ban direct marketing of prescription medicines to consumers, in the light of a damning report by academics from all of New Zealand's medical schools.

"This is a serious public health issue," Ms Kedgley said today, following the release of the report: Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicines in New Zealand - for Health or for Profit. "Prescription medicines can cause serious harm and even death. It is outrageous that the Government is allowing emotive, misleading, unbalanced advertising which targets expensive prescription medicines and downplays the risks to consumers," she said.

Ms Kedgley said the only people benefiting from direct to consumer marketing of medicines were pharmaceutical companies using it to drive up demand for new, expensive prescription medicines that are still under patent protection. Drug companies also use this style of advertising to increase demand for prescription medicines that attract Pharmac subsidies.

"At a time of massive deficits in the health sector - when we don't even have enough money to fund cancer treatment in New Zealand - it is astonishing that the Government allows a practice that drives up Government spending on pharmaceuticals," Ms Kedgley said.

"In my view the only reason the Government allows this experiment to continue is because of pressure from pharmaceutical companies and the advertising industry, and concern over potential loss of advertising revenue from TVNZ.

"It is time the Government put public health ahead of blatant commercial considerations, banned this practice and set up an independent medicine and health information service that is free of commercial interest," Ms Kedgley said.

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