Commentary: The balance between marketing and safety

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 24 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2996
  1. Keith Beard, consultant physician
  1. 1Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow G41 3DX
  1. keith.beard{at}

    Drug marketing can be sophisticated and very successful. This is understandably desirable for manufacturers given the pressures of finite patent life and the imminent arrival of competitors. Kao expresses concern that successful marketing of new medicines, especially in the regulatory environment that allows a shorter lead time from submission to market access, might compromise patient safety.1 2 His description of sitagliptin’s market penetration in the United States is an impressive story from an industry perspective. It also raises the issues of drug industry involvement with disease awareness campaigns and patient organisations, as well as direct to consumer advertising as methods of promoting product awareness. A recent European Commission consultation focused on the role of industry in providing information on medicines to patients, and although there was overall agreement that the present ban on direct to consumer advertising should remain, there was perhaps predictable variation in stakeholders’ responses.3

    Current systems

    Are safety systems up to the challenges posed by the more rapid arrival of new drugs in the marketplace? …

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