Europe reviews rules on pharma-patient interaction

Drugmakers may soon be able to communicate more freely with European patients. The European Commission plans to review its policies restricting direct interaction with patients--and to draft new rules that will standardize those restrictions in all 27 EU countries, Bloomberg reports. Proposed rules will be released in September or October, a Commission spokesman said. 

As the news service points out, it's unlikely that European regulators would allow the sort of direct-to-consumer TV advertising that's sanctioned in the U.S. Nor would ads in mass-market, general-interest magazines or newspapers be likely to win approval.

A previous draft of the rules, however, would have allowed ads in health publications. Of course, that draft failed to win approval from member governments, so there's no telling whether the idea would be part of a new proposal.

Consistent rules would be helpful to the industry, Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, told Bloomberg. Particularly if those rules would allow companies to communicate with patients directly, of course. "Today it is a patchwork," Bergstrom said. "If you are in the U.K. or Sweden you can usually get high-quality information [about drugs] rather than relying on your doctor, whereas in southern Europe there is nothing."

- read the Bloomberg story

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