Intended for healthcare professionals

News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

Only 6% of drug advertising material is supported by evidence

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 27 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:485

A deliberately misleading title ?

As Annette Tuffs article was published in the BRITISH Medical Journal
would it not have been more informative to have entitled her piece "Only
6% of GERMAN drug advertising material is supported by evidence" ?
Furthermore, it may have been helpful and interesting for your readers for
the author to have compared the UK and German regulatory situations
regarding the substantiation of claims in promotional material. Here in
the UK, the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry contains
an entire clause (clause7) which deals exclusively with "Information,
Claims and Comparisons". In particular, Clause 7.4 states explicitly that
"Any information, claim or comparison must be capable of substantiation".
Companies who do not adhere to this requirement can, and are, disciplined
by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA). Indeed,
if the article in question had been reporting on activities taking place
in the UK, the PMCPA would almost certainly have spotted it and taken
action themselves.

As a practising Pharmaceutical Physician in the UK it is an important
part of my job to ensure that all promotional claims used by my employers
are capable of appropriate substatiation. Indeed, I have a statutory
responsibility to do so, and I take this responsibility very seriously. I
am therefore extremely disappointed to see that, yet again, this journal
has, either deliberately, or as a result of ignorance, created a negative
impression of the UK Pharmaceutical Industry.

There are many hundreds of hardworking, diligent and professional
Pharmaceutical Physicians in the UK (most of whom are probably members of
the BMA) who will share my disappointment and frustration with the BMJ.
Your articles, and indeed your titles, need to be more balanced,
informative and accurate when dealing with Pharmaceutical Industry (and
Pharmaceutical Medicine) issues.

Competing interests:
I am a UK based Pharmaceutical Physician employed by a UK based Pharmaceutical Company.

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 March 2004
Alan S. Black
Medical Director
Peebles, EH45 9JD