Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771
socialaudit@gn.apc.org   http://www.socialaudit.org.uk

 

Mr. Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

24 March 2000

Dear Mr Alder,

I enclose a copy of the advertisement for Detrusitol in General Practitioner (17 March 2000); this reveals the company's response to the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority's findings published last month.

The company has now changed the headline, "Freed by Detrusitol" to "Help free your patients". It would take an unusually well-informed doctor to realise that this amounted to the difference between an effective drug, and one that was little more effective than placebo. Even so, it helps to explain what kinds of "partnership" and "empowerment" the pharmaceutical industry has in mind when it advocates direct-to-consumer advertising.

However, I am writing to ask what, if anything, the MCA is proposing to do about the big claim for "selectively" in this advertisement? The advert was prepared in November 1999, several months after the FDA told Pharmacia & Upjohn it found the claim misleading. This was because the claim for selectively was based not on human studies, but on experiments with cats.

As the MCA and other EU regulatory agencies allowed P&U to gloss over the differences between humans and cats in the directions for use (SPC) for Detrusitol, perhaps you are minded to let this claim go? I'd be grateful if you'd let me know what the position is - treating this letter as a complaint about the advertisement, if that is what it takes.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar

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List of correspondence with MCA/CSM