Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007 - (Page 17)

RUNNING HEAD In the Public Interest Brian Ager, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), outlines the Federation’s calls for reform in EU patient legislation. F or many years now, there seems to have been a widespread agreement among EU institutions, healthcare stakeholders and EU citizens that communication with patients and the general public on health issues and prescription medicines should be improved, with the objective of having better informed patients. This is also a priority for the research-based pharmaceutical industry. Hoping to turn a long debate into action, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) participated in the recent European Commission consultation on the current practices related to information to patients. In its detailed response, EFPIA stressed once again that the pharmaceutical industry in Europe firmly believes that the public has a fundamental right to quality information about diseases, therapeutic solutions and authorised medicinal products, and that it stands ready to play a responsible role in the provision of non-promotional, highquality health information. Patients in Europe are not getting the health information they need, as pointed out by European Commission’s vice president Günter Verheugen.“The current situation is unsatisfactory and in my view even unacceptable… A potential source of information is the industry, which has the knowledge, skills and resources to provide, at least, basic information… I strongly believe that the industry should have the right to produce nonpromotional information for patients about their own medicines and diseases and to publish it.” When it comes to information to patients, the criteria to decide on the acceptability of health information should be its quality rather than on the source providing it. To be clear: EFPIA does not advocate direct-toconsumer (DTC) advertising in Europe, but we call for the pharmaceutical industry to be enabled (among other information providers) to supply non- promotional, high-quality disease, health-related and treatment information to EU citizens. We are convinced that pharmaceutical companies have unique product and disease expertise. They should be considered as important and legitimate providers of health information alongside healthcare professionals, pharmacists, patient groups and regulatory agencies. In this context, we as an industry are ready to explore possible solutions with stakeholders to build the necessary trust and overcome the current information deficit for the benefit of patients and citizens in Europe. The current situation The reality is that current legal restrictions in many EU member states prevent the industry from communicating even basic and legally authorised information about their medicines to the public; ironically, while allowing anyone else to do so (for example, via the internet). The 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007

The Brand Exchange
Focused and Flexible
Making A Global Vision Work
Leading the Way
The OnlineConsumer
Wired to the Future
Co-ordinate Your Communications
In the Public Interest
Seek First to Understand

Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007