Drug Marketing in French-speaking African Countries. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 017 (1994)
(1994; 2 pages)


In 1990 a study was completed in francophone Africa to quantitatively analyze the level of misleading or substandard drug advertisements in six medical or paramedical journals. All six journals had addresses in France, thus the content of the advertisements was compared to French regulations. Only 29.1% of advertisements contained all of the information required by law, and 70.9% differed from French legal information in at least one respect. The proportion of essential drugs being advertised in the journals was only 24.8%, which is very low considering the high need for essential drugs in Africa. There were 19 advertisements (13.5%) that did not respect the most liberal interpretation of the code of conduct of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association. This judges only the inclusion of certain information, not its quality. These data raise concern over the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the education of health personnel. The main companies advertising in the journals were French, American and Swiss multinationals, as well as some from the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. Given their places in the world market, France was over-represented and Italy, Germany and the UK were under-represented. This shows the importance of francophone Africa to the French pharmaceutical companies. Because the African market only represents a small proportion of sales for larger companies, it is unclear why pharmaceutical companies would tarnish their image with substandard advertising in hopes of making sales in this region. The researchers conclude by saying the companies have a long way to go to improve their behaviour and reputation in this area.

Abstract written by M. Tobin, 2013.

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