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BMA slams drug company promotion rule change

By Nigel Praities

Doctors' leaders have strongly objected to plans to relax industry rules over the promotion of drugs directly to patients.

The British Medical Association said the plans to allow the pharmaceutical industry to provide more ‘non-promotional information' to patients would increase GP workload and prescription costs.

In a response to a consultation on the changes, the BMA said it ‘strongly supports' the provision of more information about medicines to patients, but that health professionals should remain the ‘primary source' of this.

‘The primacy of the dialogue between healthcare professionals and patients must be protected from the potentially damaging impact of misinformation,' reads the response.

Despite the BMA's concerns, the Government said it had ‘overwhelming support' for its proposals and would be pressing ahead with persuading the EU to implement them.

The UK Government is an enthusiastic supporter of European Commission plans to greatly extend the communication permitted between companies and patients via print media and the internet.

It supports a new system which would be self-policed by the pharmaceutical industry, to ensure the information provided was accurate and did not constitute advertising.

'Overall, the majority of respondents agreed with the proposal and the UK Government position, which is for a self-regulatory approach underpinned by national enforcement provisions,' a Government response said.

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