EU may let pharma speak to public

The European Union's proposed new rules for governing the drug industry could lead the region toward more pharma marketing. The EU proposal would standardize rules on labeling and other communication from pharma to consumers. "Patients have become more independent (and) actively seek information" about drugs, the AP quotes from an EU statement. "Consequently other sources of information are needed."

The proposed rules would restrict what drugmakers can claim on packaging, brochures, in magazines and on websites; they'd be able to talk price, risks and disease awareness. They wouldn't be able to promote a particular med or give info to patients who haven't gone in search of it.

Critics say it's a step toward DTC advertising and that the proposal could inspire more use of brand-name--hence more expensive-- drugs. But in announcing the proposal, an EC official emphasized that drug advertising will still be banned. The rules have to get the nod from EU governments and the European parliament before going into effect.

- read the AP story
- check out the article in the Wall Street Journal