|Social Audit Ltd|
|P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG|
|Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771|
|Mr Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support|
|Medicines Control Agency|
|Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane|
|London SW8 5NQ||
25 February 2000
Dear Mr Alder,
I am writing to ask if either the MCA or CSM is presently conducting, or has completed, any assessment of the possible impacts, including costs, that might result from a change in the law that now prohibits the promotion of prescription-only medicines directly to the public.
You will appreciate the basis of this enquiry: though "direct to consumer advertising" (DTCA) and related promotional activities are at present prohibited throughout Europe, there is now much pressure to change the law - and much expectation that it will soon change. In the US, DTCA has been permitted since 1997, and expenditures by pharmaceutical companies now exceed $1.5bn/year. There is therefore the prospect in the UK of a substantially increased cost burden on the NHS, and demand for regulatory oversight - quite apart from the possibility of a range of risks, costs and benefits resulting from the advertising itself.
Hence this enquiry: has any attempt been made to assess what the additional benefits, risks and costs might be - and has the CSM considered any such questions to date? I would be grateful for any information you are able to provide, including citations to any data not generated by the MCA/CSM, but on which it relies.
Please treat this as a formal request under the Code of Practice on access to Government Information. Thank you for your help and attention.
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