Pharmaceutical industry calls on ITC to lift ban on drugs advertising

The pharmaceutical industry has renewed calls to lift a Europe-wide ban on ads for prescription drugs, following controversial ITC proposals relaxing the rules on TV advertising in the UK.

The ITC plans to liberalise its rules on TV advertising – which could lead to a flood of previously unacceptable ads for medical products and services, including hypnosis, pregnancy testing, alcohol treatment and hair loss clinics.

But because the advertising of prescription drugs is outlawed under a European Union directive, and so lies outside the ITC’s jurisdiction, it is likely to remain outlawed.

Richard Ley, a spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), believes the current laws will now have to be reviewed. “We have reached the stage where patients want a great deal more information about their medicine.

“And with the Internet crossing national boundaries, it makes a mockery of the existing regulations.

“We think the time is right to sit down with the Government, doctors and the pharmaceutical companies to review the rules.”

The ITC has drawn up a list of 16 products and services – including escort agencies and private detectives – which it wants removed from the banned list.

The TV watchdog also announced this week it is holding a wide-ranging consultation exercise on public service broadcasting, as part of a review of its codes.

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