Amid all the competing clams made about prescription drugs people are often confused about how effective medicines can be and which the correct one to take is. New legislation being debated Monday (22 November) by the European Parliament aims to force pharmaceutical companies to ensure that their customers have access to "unbiased information" about their products.
The aim of the proposed EU wide legislation is to make a much clearer distinction between factual information and advertising claims.
In addition, MEPs on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee also want the following to be publicly available - probably by electronic means;
a summary of a product's characteristics, a labelling and package leaflet and a publicly accessible
version of the assessment report of the product;
the diseases and health conditions which are to be treated with the medicinal product;
Information on how to prevent such diseases and conditions.
Swedish centre right MEP Christofer Fjellner (EPP) is steering the measures through Parliament and is confident that in the debate on Monday and vote on Wednesday fellow MEPs will back his position.
"Oblige companies to give unbiased information"
As he explained to us ahead of the debate: "Today there is a lot of uncontrolled, biased and often false information on the internet. This report will oblige companies to give unbiased information to patients whenever they want it".
In Fjellner's view the greatest achievement of the report is the change of perspective. "Now the report focuses on the patient's rights to get information, not about the rights of the companies to spread information. It also establishes a clear difference between information and advertisement and strengthens the ban on advertisement."