The European Commission has updated its proposals with regard to the product information available to patients. Unlike in the United States, pharmaceutical companies in Europe cannot advertise their wares direct to the public, nor can they make claims about a medicine without clearance from Health Authorities and even then only in acceptable formats. The Commission's initial 2008 proposals have been updated to incorporate the European Parliament's amendments, the emphasis being on the rights and interests of patients.
The European Commission's press release explains "that patients are increasingly interested in learning more about the medicines they take and want more of a say in how they are treated. At the same time, patients are confronted with a growing volume of information from various sources and often find it difficult to identify reliable information about medicines. The increased use of the internet over recent years makes the need for clarity even more important. Online information on medicines must be accurate and reliable."
Some key elements of the amended proposals are:
- Only certain information on prescription-only medicines will be allowed, e.g., information on label and package leaflets, prices, pre-clinical tests and clinical trials of the medicine concerned and on the instructions for correct use.
- Only certain channels of communication will be allowed for providing information, e.g. via officially registered internet websites or through printed information provided this has been specifically requested by members of the public.