NICE conference focus

Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 11

Pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to communicate information about their products directly to the public, according to the chief executive of the Long-Term Medical Conditions Alliance.

David Pink said it was 'utterly unsustainable' for restrictions preventing companies giving information about their products to the public to continue. The former NICE audit programme director said that sufferers from long-term conditions had the right to information about products which affect their lives in such a fundamental way. Such information should not be 'controlled and censored' by the state, he said, adding, 'the government and the industry have to sort themselves out'.

Mr Pink's organisation represents over 100 voluntary bodies concerned with long-term care.

His call for change was echoed by Consumers' Association campaigns director Allan Asher: 'We want... companies to play an active role [in providing information to the public], but there are questions on how and what.'

Mr Pink and Mr Asher were responding to a plea by Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry deputy director general Andrew Curl.

Mr Curl complained that pharmaceutical companies were unable to respond adequately to the huge number of enquiries they receive each year from the public on products and treatments.

Speaking to HSJ, Mr Curl said he thought it was likely the restrictions would be lifted within five years. The European Commission is currently investigating the issue.