Coming soon: the shopping channel run by drug firms

Coming soon: the shopping channel run by drug firms

Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

May 21st, 2007, 9:40 am #1

Coming soon: the shopping channel run by drug firms

<FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Sarah Boseley
Monday May 21, 2007
<FONT color=#003366>The Guardian</FONT>


</FONT>
<DIV id=GuardianArticleBody>Four of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies are proposing to launch a television station to tell the public about their drugs, amid strenuous lobbying across Europe by the industry for an end to restrictions aimed at protecting patients. Pharma TV would be a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features but, at its heart, would be detailed information from drug companies about their medicines.
A 10-minute pilot DVD, seen by the Guardian, featured a white-coated doctor discussing breast cancer and a woman patient who reassured viewers that "there are many new treatments available". Under the proposals, viewers could use their remote control to click on treatment options and read what manufacturers have to say about the latest branded breast cancer drugs.

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<A name=article_continue></A></DIV>Four companies, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis and Procter & Gamble, are behind the pilot, which they are offering to the European commission as a way to give patients more information. The commission is consulting on potential changes to the regulations that ban all direct-to-consumer advertising of medicinal drugs.
The industry has been lobbying in Europe to be allowed direct access to patients. It argues that lifting restrictions would help its competitiveness and has hinted that companies may relocate to the US, where they can advertise to patients who then demand drugs from their doctors. Profits have soared there as a result.
The proposed change in the rules is being led within the commission by its trade arm, DG Enterprise, and not health, DG Sanco. It is backed by a number of influential patient groups that are themselves heavily funded by drug companies. But consumer organisations are opposed, warning that the companies will play down risk, and that their real interest lies in boosting profits.
The International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) - consumer publications which analyse the benefits of drugs and draw comparisons between them - warns that the industry is not a reliable source of trustworthy information.
The US and New Zealand allow drug companies to advertise to the public; the ISDB says in both these countries this has been shown to be detrimental to health.
"Pharmaceutical companies' messages are focused on relatively few top sellers, exaggerating effects and concealing risks, confusing patients and putting pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs they would not use otherwise," it says. "Lack of comparative information in advertising means people cannot choose among several options." Johnson & Johnson presented the companies' proposals to a meeting in Brussels of the Centre for Health, Ethics and Society, a thinktank which describes itself as "developed in partnership with Johnson & Johnson". The audience comprised members of the commission, patient groups and others.
The European Patient Information Channel, as industry is calling it, could be available on the internet as well as TV, and would offer "on demand" information about drugs "to enable patients and citizens to make better decisions", said Scott Ratzan of Johnson & Johnson. It would be self-regulating, with a board of medical, pharmaceutical and patient representatives to hear complaints.
The TV pilot was welcomed by the European Patients' Forum. The forum, an umbrella group, is one of only two patient organisations admitted to the working group set up by the commission to discuss changes in the rules.
Although its executive director, Nicola Bedlington, said the pilot's "slightly sanctimonious and patronising" tone needed improvement, she and other patient representatives present approved it in principle
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

May 21st, 2007, 9:53 am #2


The European Patient Information Channel, as industry is calling it, could be available on the internet as well as TV, and would offer "on demand" information about drugs "to enable patients and citizens to make better decisions", said Scott Ratzan of Johnson & Johnson. It would be self-regulating, with a board of medical, pharmaceutical and patient representatives to hear complaints.
The TV pilot was welcomed by the European Patients' Forum. The forum, an umbrella group, is one of only two patient organisations admitted to the working group set up by the commission to discuss changes in the rules.
Although its executive director, Nicola Bedlington, said the pilot's "slightly sanctimonious and patronising" tone needed improvement, she and other patient representatives present approved it in principle.
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May 21st, 2007, 9:54 am #3

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May 21st, 2007, 9:56 am #4

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<P align=justify><FONT face=Verdana size=2>The European Patients’ Forum (EPF) gratefully acknowledges the generous support from the following organisations, companies and individuals:</FONT>

<P align=justify>&nbsp;

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<P align=left><FONT face=Verdana size=2>In spring 2005, PhRMA provided EPF with sponsorship of 45,000 Euro for the organisation of a survey on patients’ needs with regard to information on prescription medicines.
&nbsp;</FONT>
</TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD><FONT face=Verdana size=2>The European Coalition of Positive People seconded Annette Dumas to work cost-free as the EU Policy Officer for EPF from December 2004 to December 2005.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD bgColor=#ccccff><FONT face=Verdana size=2>PFIZER provided EPF with in kind contributions for the organisation of the conferences Driving Better Health in Europe (2004) and Driving Better Health in Europe : the Valule of Health Education and Compliance (2005). In particular, Pfizer covered the costs for the meeting room, the travel and accommodation costs of conference participants and the publication of the meeting report.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD><FONT face=Verdana size=2>In 2005, AMGEN provided EPF with in kind contribution for the organisation of an educational workshop on biosimilar medicines held in view of the consultation by the EMEA on its draft guidelines on similar biological medicinal products. In particular, AMGEN covered the costs of the conference participants and the publication of the workshop report.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD bgColor=#ccccff><FONT face=Verdana size=2>In 2004 and 2005, EPF and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industry Associations (EFPIA) jointly organised a training seminar for patient groups representatives from the 10 new Member States : Strengthening Patient Groups in the EU. EPF and EFPIA jointly worked on the content of the seminars. The participants expenses and the conference costs were covered by EPFIA.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD><FONT face=Verdana size=2>In 2005, Baxter has generously funded Don Marquis’ support to EPF in developing its business plan and rules of procedure while BMW seconded Don in this task.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD bgColor=#ccccff><FONT face=Verdana size=2>Various EPF member organisations generously financed the travel and accommodation costs for members of their organisations to attend EPF Executive meetings.
&nbsp;</FONT></TD></TR>
<TR>
<TD><FONT face=Verdana size=2>In 2003 and 2004, Christine Marking and Grainne Crowley generously provided pro-bono consultancy work to EPF for the preparation of a potential EU project, for the organisation of the official launch of EPF in the European Parliament and for other tasks of EPF.</FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
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May 21st, 2007, 12:45 pm #5

Coming soon: the shopping channel run by drug firms

<FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Sarah Boseley
Monday May 21, 2007
<FONT color=#003366>The Guardian</FONT>


</FONT>
<DIV id=GuardianArticleBody>Four of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies are proposing to launch a television station to tell the public about their drugs, amid strenuous lobbying across Europe by the industry for an end to restrictions aimed at protecting patients. Pharma TV would be a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features but, at its heart, would be detailed information from drug companies about their medicines.
A 10-minute pilot DVD, seen by the Guardian, featured a white-coated doctor discussing breast cancer and a woman patient who reassured viewers that "there are many new treatments available". Under the proposals, viewers could use their remote control to click on treatment options and read what manufacturers have to say about the latest branded breast cancer drugs.

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<A name=article_continue></A></DIV>Four companies, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis and Procter & Gamble, are behind the pilot, which they are offering to the European commission as a way to give patients more information. The commission is consulting on potential changes to the regulations that ban all direct-to-consumer advertising of medicinal drugs.
The industry has been lobbying in Europe to be allowed direct access to patients. It argues that lifting restrictions would help its competitiveness and has hinted that companies may relocate to the US, where they can advertise to patients who then demand drugs from their doctors. Profits have soared there as a result.
The proposed change in the rules is being led within the commission by its trade arm, DG Enterprise, and not health, DG Sanco. It is backed by a number of influential patient groups that are themselves heavily funded by drug companies. But consumer organisations are opposed, warning that the companies will play down risk, and that their real interest lies in boosting profits.
The International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) - consumer publications which analyse the benefits of drugs and draw comparisons between them - warns that the industry is not a reliable source of trustworthy information.
The US and New Zealand allow drug companies to advertise to the public; the ISDB says in both these countries this has been shown to be detrimental to health.
"Pharmaceutical companies' messages are focused on relatively few top sellers, exaggerating effects and concealing risks, confusing patients and putting pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs they would not use otherwise," it says. "Lack of comparative information in advertising means people cannot choose among several options." Johnson & Johnson presented the companies' proposals to a meeting in Brussels of the Centre for Health, Ethics and Society, a thinktank which describes itself as "developed in partnership with Johnson & Johnson". The audience comprised members of the commission, patient groups and others.
The European Patient Information Channel, as industry is calling it, could be available on the internet as well as TV, and would offer "on demand" information about drugs "to enable patients and citizens to make better decisions", said Scott Ratzan of Johnson & Johnson. It would be self-regulating, with a board of medical, pharmaceutical and patient representatives to hear complaints.
The TV pilot was welcomed by the European Patients' Forum. The forum, an umbrella group, is one of only two patient organisations admitted to the working group set up by the commission to discuss changes in the rules.
Although its executive director, Nicola Bedlington, said the pilot's "slightly sanctimonious and patronising" tone needed improvement, she and other patient representatives present approved it in principle
</DIV>
<STRONG><FONT face=Arial size=5>Drug firms and patient groups join in fight to overturn advertising ban</FONT></STRONG><FONT size=3><FONT face=Arial> </FONT>
<FONT face=Arial>· Pharmaceutical industry seeks to unlock market
· Critics say EU reform talks are shrouded in secrecy</FONT>
</FONT><FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Sarah Boseley, health editor
</FONT><FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Monday May 21, 2007
</FONT><FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>
Guardian
</FONT><FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Drug companies in Europe, faced with declining sales and a shortage of new products, appear to be making ground in their attempt to enlist a major new ally in their struggle for profits - the patient.
Sales soared in the US after companies were allowed to advertise their prescription medicines on TV and radio and in magazines and newspapers. Patients in America began demanding more drugs and specific, expensive brand-name drugs from their doctors. Now the firms want to target the UK in the same way, and are strongly challenging a ban on direct consumer advertising in the EU.
This has been tried before. In 2002, there was an attempt to persuade the European parliament to allow companies to launch "disease awareness campaigns", which critics believed would encourage people to believe they were sick and lead to demand for new drugs from doctors.
Then, as now, industry was aligned with certain patient groups which it funds.
In 2002, Merck Sharp and Dohme paid for a 30-page supplement distributed with the New Statesman which included full-page adverts backing changes to advertising rules. One was signed by 15 European patient groups coordinated by Rodney Elgie, president of the mental health organisation GAMIAN-Europe.
"What we were advocating ... was that one should be free within the necessary checks and balances to secure information from any valid authorised source," said Mr Elgie.
He rejected criticism from some consumer organisations that patients' groups are biased by accepting drug company funding: "They employ a perverse logic that because patient groups accept pharmaceutical funding they are automatically in the pockets of drug companies."
Mr Elgie pointed to the funding behind one of the major consumer groups, HAI - Health Action International. "It has consistently received around 65% of its funding each year from the Dutch government ... Yet this is no way affects their judgment on a host of issues. So far as I am aware, no patient group is so beholden to one drug company to such an extent."
The European parliament refused to weaken the advertising rules five years ago. But the industry, with the backing of drug company-funded patient groups and a few vocal MEPs, has again succeeded in persuading the European commission that the rules need reform, and it is now discussing how this could be done.
Nobody uses the word "advertising". All the talk is of allowing pharmaceutical companies to give information direct to patients.
However, it is the trade arm of the commission - not the health arm - that is involved in the discussion and looking at ways to allow companies access to patients. It has set up a pharmaceutical forum to come up with proposals, chaired by commissioners Gunter Verheugen and Markos Kyprianou.
Critics complain of a lack of transparency and that the membership of the working group on information to patients has not been made public.
Only two patient groups have been included; one of them receives substantial funding from the pharmaceutical industry. A coalition of critics, the Medicines in Europe Forum, which was launched in 2002 and comprises consumer groups, the International Society of Drug Bulletins (which assess medicines independently of the industry) and European health insurers, wrote to the commissioners last week expressing their dismay.
Information
In their letter, they deplored the fact "that since its inception the pharmaceutical forum has operated with an almost total lack of transparency" and warned that it was not in drug companies' interests to provide full and unbiased information to patients.
Recent scandals, such as the heart deaths linked to the arthritis painkiller Vioxx, "are potent reminders that pharmaceutical companies often minimise or even fail to disclose adverse effects", they said.
"In a fiercely competitive marketplace, pharmaceutical manufacturers naturally have an obligation to their shareholders to realise profits from sales. They must therefore promote their own drugs rather than other preventative or treatment options. As a result, pharmaceutical companies are utterly incapable of providing the reliable comparative information needed by patients."
Mr Elgie disagreed. Drug companies were a legitimate source of information about their products, he said, and insisted the consumer was capable of recognising promotional advertising, whether of medicines or of washing powder.
Where the money comes from
Leading patient groups, and the companies that support them:
European Patients Forum
The EPF was set up after the European commission said it would prefer to deal with one pan-European organisation representing patients. The EPF's first president, from launch in January 2003 until 2005, was Rodney Elgie, from the mental health organisation GAMIAN-Europe, who is a central figure in the evolution of patient groups linked to the pharmaceutical industry in Europe. The EPF was strongly criticised for a lack of transparency by the campaigning group Health Action International in July 2005. "European patients are ill-served by a group whose close links to the pharmaceutical industry amount to an enormous risk of conflict of interest," said Jeremy Smith, author of the HAI report. The EPF at the time did not publish details of its funding. Now it does, and virtually its entire income comes from drug companies.
International Alliance of Patient Organisations
IAPO was set up in 1999 by 38 patient groups with funds from the Pharmaceutical Partners for Better Healthcare, a collaboration of some 40 drug companies. Pharmaceutical Partners closed down that same year, throwing IAPO into serious financial difficulties. Pfizer stepped in with a grant in 2002 to help IAPO develop a strategy for the future. A variety of individual companies have supported it since then. In 2006, drug companies contributed $250,554 (£127,000) out of a total income of $278,755. In 2006, GSK, Pfizer, Medtronic and Novartis were the biggest sponsors, each providing more than $50,000 a year.
GAMIAN-Europe
The Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks was founded by the drug company Bristol Myers Squibb in March 1997, bringing together 12 organisations including Depression Alliance from the UK. GAMIAN-Europe, registered in Belgium, does not detail its funding on its website, apart from acknowledging drug company grants for specific projects. It told the Guardian that nearly half (45%) of its €234,000 (£160,000) income in 2006 came from Eli Lilly, manufacturers of Prozac. Other antidepressant makers also contributed. Lundbeck sponsorship was 26% of the group's income, Pfizer 11%, GlaxoSmithKline 6% and Wyeth 1%. Just 2% came from membership subscriptions.
Alzheimer Europe
A member of the European Patients Forum and an umbrella body for national Alzheimer's associations. Over a third of Alzheimer Europe's income (37%) came from the pharmaceutical industry in 2005. The biggest payments were from Lundbeck (€51,683 - £35,347), Janssen-Cilag (€40,000) and Pfizer (€39,230). The Alzheimer's Society in the UK accepts far less from drug companies - donations amounted to less than 1% of income in the financial year 2005-06.</FONT>
<FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=1>Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007</FONT>
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May 21st, 2007, 12:55 pm #6


GAMIAN-Europe
The Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks was founded by the drug company Bristol Myers Squibb in March 1997, bringing together 12 organisations including Depression Alliance from the UK. GAMIAN-Europe, registered in Belgium, does not detail its funding on its website, apart from acknowledging drug company grants for specific projects. It told the Guardian that nearly half (45%) of its €234,000 (£160,000) income in 2006 came from Eli Lilly, manufacturers of Prozac. Other antidepressant makers also contributed. Lundbeck sponsorship was 26% of the group's income, Pfizer 11%, GlaxoSmithKline 6% and Wyeth 1%. Just 2% came from membership subscriptions.
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

May 21st, 2007, 12:56 pm #7


Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks

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http://www.depressionalliance.org/
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

May 21st, 2007, 1:03 pm #8

Coming soon: the shopping channel run by drug firms

<FONT face=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif size=2>Sarah Boseley
Monday May 21, 2007
<FONT color=#003366>The Guardian</FONT>


</FONT>
<DIV id=GuardianArticleBody>Four of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies are proposing to launch a television station to tell the public about their drugs, amid strenuous lobbying across Europe by the industry for an end to restrictions aimed at protecting patients. Pharma TV would be a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features but, at its heart, would be detailed information from drug companies about their medicines.
A 10-minute pilot DVD, seen by the Guardian, featured a white-coated doctor discussing breast cancer and a woman patient who reassured viewers that "there are many new treatments available". Under the proposals, viewers could use their remote control to click on treatment options and read what manufacturers have to say about the latest branded breast cancer drugs.

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<A name=article_continue></A></DIV>Four companies, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis and Procter & Gamble, are behind the pilot, which they are offering to the European commission as a way to give patients more information. The commission is consulting on potential changes to the regulations that ban all direct-to-consumer advertising of medicinal drugs.
The industry has been lobbying in Europe to be allowed direct access to patients. It argues that lifting restrictions would help its competitiveness and has hinted that companies may relocate to the US, where they can advertise to patients who then demand drugs from their doctors. Profits have soared there as a result.
The proposed change in the rules is being led within the commission by its trade arm, DG Enterprise, and not health, DG Sanco. It is backed by a number of influential patient groups that are themselves heavily funded by drug companies. But consumer organisations are opposed, warning that the companies will play down risk, and that their real interest lies in boosting profits.
The International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB) - consumer publications which analyse the benefits of drugs and draw comparisons between them - warns that the industry is not a reliable source of trustworthy information.
The US and New Zealand allow drug companies to advertise to the public; the ISDB says in both these countries this has been shown to be detrimental to health.
"Pharmaceutical companies' messages are focused on relatively few top sellers, exaggerating effects and concealing risks, confusing patients and putting pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs they would not use otherwise," it says. "Lack of comparative information in advertising means people cannot choose among several options." Johnson & Johnson presented the companies' proposals to a meeting in Brussels of the Centre for Health, Ethics and Society, a thinktank which describes itself as "developed in partnership with Johnson & Johnson". The audience comprised members of the commission, patient groups and others.
The European Patient Information Channel, as industry is calling it, could be available on the internet as well as TV, and would offer "on demand" information about drugs "to enable patients and citizens to make better decisions", said Scott Ratzan of Johnson & Johnson. It would be self-regulating, with a board of medical, pharmaceutical and patient representatives to hear complaints.
The TV pilot was welcomed by the European Patients' Forum. The forum, an umbrella group, is one of only two patient organisations admitted to the working group set up by the commission to discuss changes in the rules.
Although its executive director, Nicola Bedlington, said the pilot's "slightly sanctimonious and patronising" tone needed improvement, she and other patient representatives present approved it in principle
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Joined: April 1st, 2004, 4:56 pm

May 21st, 2007, 1:05 pm #9

GAMIAN-Europe
The Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks was founded by the drug company Bristol Myers Squibb in March 1997, bringing together 12 organisations including Depression Alliance from the UK. GAMIAN-Europe, registered in Belgium, does not detail its funding on its website, apart from acknowledging drug company grants for specific projects. It told the Guardian that nearly half (45%) of its €234,000 (£160,000) income in 2006 came from Eli Lilly, manufacturers of Prozac. Other antidepressant makers also contributed. Lundbeck sponsorship was 26% of the group's income, Pfizer 11%, GlaxoSmithKline 6% and Wyeth 1%. Just 2% came from membership subscriptions.
It told the Guardian that nearly half (45%) of its €234,000 (£160,000) income in 2006 came from Eli Lilly, manufacturers of Prozac. Other antidepressant makers also contributed. Lundbeck sponsorship was 26% of the group's income, Pfizer 11%, GlaxoSmithKline 6% and Wyeth 1%. Just 2% came from membership subscriptions.
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