Current ban on direct-to-consumer drug advertising must be upheld to protect patients and workers, says broad coalition of unions and citizen groups granted intervener status on Charter challenge


For immediate release

Ottawa, (November 6, 2006) -- An Ontario Superior Court judge granted a broad coalition intervener status last Friday in an upcoming Charter challenge case between Canwest Mediaworks Inc. and the Attorney General of Canada. Canwest has mounted a Charter challenge to the statutory prohibition on direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs.

"The ban on DTCA of pharmaceuticals is key to health protection and the sustainability of public and private health insurance programs," says Linda Silas, RN, President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, one of the coalition members. "Canwest is acting out of corporate and not the public interest, which is unacceptable when people's health is at stake".

The coalition members include the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Health Coalition, Women and Health Protection, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the Society for Diabetic Rights, the Medical Reform Group and Terence Young. The coalition is being represented by Steven Shrybman with the law firm, Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell.

The coalition will bring evidence on the impact of DTCA on women and on health benefit costs.

"Premiums for health benefits will increase at a much faster pace than we are already seeing if DTCA is allowed. Employers will try and limit access to this benefit and labour strife could result as workers respond", warns Keith Newman with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

" Canadians are already exposed to DTCA as the current ban is not properly enforced", notes Anne Rochon Ford, of Women and Health Protection. "Should speed limits be eliminated because some drivers get away with speeding? We need to uphold the ban and strengthen enforcement if we are to protect the sustainability of our health system, and the health of Canadians - particularly young women who are often the targets of ad campaigns".

The case will be heard in the coming months.

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For more information, contact:
Steven Shrybman, Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell, 416-591-7333
Pamela Foster, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, 613-255-8558


Press release prepared on behalf of the Coalition by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions



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