April 1, 2004

From Women and Health Protection:

New government report on prescription drugs calls for immediate ban on drug advertisements, more transparency for drug trials

National women's health organization praises report findings, demands government action


Women and Health Protection (WHP), a national watch-dog group of Canada's drug regulatory system, heartily applauds the report on prescription drugs released today by the federal, all-party Standing Committee on Health. The report follows the committee's cross-country hearings on public response to key issues concerning prescription drugs.

The key recommendations of the report, tabled today in the House of Commons, mirror many promoted by WHP and include calls for:

1) Increased transparency in how clinical trials are conducted.
2) Increased resources for post-market surveillance of adverse drug reactions.
3) Immediate prohibition of all industry-sponsored advertisements of prescription drugs to the public, including reminder ads and help-seeking messages.

"We are delighted to see the recommendations of this report," said Anne Rochon Ford, spokesperson for Women and Health Protection. "They are a true reflection of what we feel a critical public is saying about the current state of drug regulation in this country. The system is badly in need of enforcement of those parts of our legislation that truly protect the public, and requires significant change where things are failing."

The proposed ban on direct-to-consumer advertising will be particularly welcomed by a host of consumer and professional groups who have been concerned about the increase in ads over the past five years.

"This is good news for women's health," says Ford, "coming in the same week as a private member's bill calling for a breast implant registry. These are exactly the kinds of changes the women's health movement has been saying are needed."

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