When? Wednesday 24 February 2010 – 12.00-15.00
Where? Stockholm Region Representation
Avenue Marnix 28, B-1000 Brussels (access map)
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Photo gallery available here
Event report available here
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What patients are told about prescription medicines is strictly regulated in Europe. Advertising to patients is prohibited and information has to be channelled via health professionals. But these rules have become increasingly problematic, as patients become more assertive in seeking out their own information. The internet allows patients to bypass traditional channels to medical information, so is it possible to ensure that the information they get is safe, unbiased, and accurate?
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While many stakeholders agree that technological developments must be taken into account, there is little agreement on what changes should be made to EU rules.
The European Commission failed in an earlier attempt to open up new channels to health information. In 2001, it proposed to lift the ban on direct advertising to patients for certain disease areas. After two years of procedure, the idea was rejected by the European Parliament, amid concerns about the potential impact of the proposal on Europe’s strained healthcare systems.
However, as the status quo was deemed untenable, the Commission was instructed to consult further and come forward with a new proposal. In the meantime, national governments began to adopt their own solutions.
In December 2008, the Commission presented a new yet more ambitious proposal, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to provide information directly to patients on all prescription-only drugs that they manufacture. In an attempt to prevent the EU’s member states from diverging further, the proposal tries to give more precise criteria as to how to distinguish between advertising and information.
Some stakeholders distrust the ability of the pharmaceutical companies to provide unbiased information. Some health professionals and public health insurers would prefer to have independent sources of information. The pharmaceutical companies protest that they want to maintain the ban on advertising, and say they are only responding to patients’ requests for information.
Can a clear distinction be drawn between information and advertisement? Does the Commission’s proposal contain sufficient safeguards for patients? Who stands to benefit – patients, the drugs industry, or healthcare professionals?
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12:00 – 12:30 Registration & buffet lunch
12:30 – 13:05 Panel Discussion
- Mr Christofer Fjellner MEP, rapporteur on the proposed directive on information to patients, European Parliament
- Mr Per Manell, association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden (LIF)
- Dr Konstanty Radziwill, president, standing committee of European doctors (CPME)
- Mr Jan Geissler, director, European cancer patients coalition (ECPC)
Moderation: Dr Phil Hammond
13:05 – 14:25 Debate with the audience
14:25 – 14:30 Conclusions from the moderator
14:30 – 15:00 Networking coffee & cake
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EuropeanVoice, which has an established reputation for healtcare conferences, is now embarking on a new format. Confrontational and controversial, the ‘EV health check debates’ will air issues for the future of EU healthcare in an environment that encourages audience participation.