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UK regulator is to take lighter approach to drug advertisements

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1396 (Published 01 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1396
  1. Elizabeth Sukkar
  1. 1London

The UK regulator of medicines is going to take a “light touch” approach to the pre-publication vetting of material that advertises new drugs if drug companies have a good track record in complying with the law.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) started to check that advertising material for all new drugs complied with the law before the advertising was launched—known as pre-vetting—after a recommendation by the House of Commons Select Committee in its landmark 2005 report on the influence of the industry.1

At the time the committee said that intensive marketing that encouraged inappropriate prescribing of drugs “must be curbed” and noted that 80% of drug advertising was aimed at doctors, with an increasing amount targeting nurses with new prescribing powers.

June Raine, the MHRA’s director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said that the regulator had given a commitment to continue to pre-vet advertising materials for all new drugs but that there was now some flexibility.

“The room for manoeuvre is to make [assessment times] shorter and more proportionate to risk if the company has an excellent compliance record,” she said. Instead of assessing many advertising pieces for these companies, …

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