Essential Drugs Monitor No. 017 (1994)
(1994; 24 pages) [French] [Spanish]


This edition of the Essential Drugs Monitor describes the developments surrounding the improvement of ethical drug promotion. An article describes the Ethical Criteria for Medicinal Drug Promotion which was created in 1988 by the World Health Organization to place drug promotion within a public health context. The Criteria addresses topics such as advertising, medical representatives, surveillance, packaging and labeling. In 1994, a joint meeting with the WHO, Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) and other interested parties established 19 recommendations (summarized in this issue) for future action to further implement and monitor the progress of the Criteria. The World Health Assembly endorsed these recommendations in a resolution that year, and the article "Drug discussion at the 47th World Health Assembly" outlines the rest of the debates surrounding drugs at that year’s assembly.

EDM 17 contains articles that highlight different countries such as Angola, Australia, Estonia and the Philippines that have been working toward understanding and mitigating the effects of unethical drug promotion with new policies. There is a disparity between developing and developed countries in terms of the capacity for pharmaceutical regulation. One study mentioned in this volume reveals that just 29.1% of drug advertisements in six medical and paramedical journals of francophone Africa contained full and accurate information. Another article reports on a study by the United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which revealed that two-thirds of a selection of drugs supplied in four developing countries lacked the necessary labeling information to be prescribed properly. Developing countries have more barriers to deal with unethical drug promotion due to a lower level of legislative infrastructure, education and income. Two studies of drug representatives in action in France and the Philippines provide observations on how pharmaceutical companies take advantage of face to face interaction in order to promote products. The Newsdesk features two brief articles on the promotion of generic drugs in Australia and Thailand, along with a short article summarizing the recommendations from the annual two-day meeting of the Management Advisory Committee of the WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs.

The Published Lately section describes a publication on a methodology to investigate drug use in health facilities.

The overall conclusion from this edition of the EDM is that access to non-commercial information is vital, which is based in the ethical principle of the right to be informed, regardless of country or income. Both prescribers and consumers need to be correctly informed about drugs, and thus it is imperative that both parties know where to find quality information to avoid unnecessary spending and undue health risks. Education of prescribers, strengthened government regulation and commercial responsibility are also key factors in the success of ethical drug promotion.

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