May 11, 2000

Illegal ads for prescription drugs are misleading Canadian women, group charges


MONTREAL: An upsurge in illegal advertisements is misleading Canadian women, said Carla Marcelis, spokesperson for a coalition of women's health advocates. Although direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs is illegal in Canada, ad campaigns are now running in print and electronic media across the country.

The Working Group on Women and Health represents over twenty women's and consumers' groups across Canada including the Canadian Women's Health Network, DES Action Canada and the Women's Health Clinic in Winnipeg.

One misleading advertisement pitched to Canadian women promotes a potent hormonal medication as a treatment for acne.

"The illegal ads for Diane 35 are appearing on billboards across the country," Marcelis told reporters in Montreal this morning. "Young women have no idea that this treatment is associated with serious health risks."

Marcelis said her group had complained to the Ministry of Health six months ago, without results. She also distributed information from the World Health Organization about safety concerns over Diane 35. "We're concerned about the explosion of ads that misrepresent the benefits and understate the risks of medications," she said.

BACKGROUNDER on Direct to Consumer Advertising is available at the website of the Working Group on Women and Health Protection and at the website of the Canadian Women's Health Network.




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