Intended for healthcare professionals


Information for patients on medicines

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1034
  1. Joanne M Shaw (, director,
  2. Geraldine Mynors, head of projects,
  3. Caroline Kelham, project manager
  1. Medicines Partnership, London SE1 7JN
  2. Medicines Partnership, London SE1 7JN

    Should be much more accessible and patient centred

    The traditional model for communicating with patients about their medicines is that doctors decide the best treatment and patients follow their doctors' instructions with only limited independent access to information about treatment. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is now reviewing its code of practice,1 and this is an important opportunity to move to a more modern view of patients—as partners of health professionals and decision makers in relation to their health. The main aim of the code is to protect patients from potentially harmful influence. It currently focuses heavily on regulating the pharmaceutical industry's communications with health professionals and imposes highly restrictive conditions on direct communication with patients. This model is seriously flawed.

    The ABPI code of practice should reflect the increasing role that patients are taking in decisions about their health and treatment, as well as patients' entitlement to access information from any source they choose. The code should require companies to provide better information for …

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