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.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of correspondence with MCA/CSM