Medical Information for Consumers
Economic Note / April 2004
Most people believe mistakenly that information on the therapeutic value of medicine is readily available. A Canadian survey has shown that 62% of people polled thought that direct medical information to the consumer was allowed. Unfortunately, whether in Canada, France, Belgium or elsewhere, this is not the case and the regulatory framework hinders a real dissemination of information directly to the consumer (relayed either by television, radio, media or internet). This would enable consumers to save time and money by obtaining the relevant data faster and the most efficient medication for the best price rather than choose less effective products by default. Legislation relating to medical data is very strict so as to cover potential medical risks for the public. Indication of any side effects of medicine is compulsory on leaflets however legislation almost forbids mention of any benefits.
Nevertheless, attempts have been made to change the situation in Europe however unsuccessfully. In 2002, the European Commission submitted a draft Directive proposing less strict regulations on prescription medicine related data. The aim of this Directive was to launch a pilot study focusing on AIDS, chronic bronchi-pulmonary affections and diabetes treatments. This draft Directive was rejected on 23 October 2002 by the European Parliament because, « it is vital to ensure that the information communicated to the patient is verified beforehand by neutral and publiclyfinanced scientific bodies » explained Ms Françoise Grossetête, rapporteur to the Health & Environment Committee.