The drugs I need…

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The Consumers Union in the USA has just released this amusing animation for its ‘Prescription for Change’ campaign. The CU supports the American FACT Act, which is going through Congress at the moment. The bill would require drug companies to make public all the results of their clinical trials and create an independent office of drug safety in the Food and Drug Administration to ensure quick action is taken when safety concerns are raised.

In the UK by comparison, none of the clinical trials for drugs have been published and until last year it was actually a crime to make these details public even when they were obviously in the public interest. The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (the UK equivalent of the American FDA) had to ask permission from pharmaceutical companies before it could make such information public.

This prohibition on disclosure (section 118 of the Medicines Act 1968) has now been amended to make it compatible with the Freedom of Information Act, though originally I was told it would be repealed altogether.

The chapter on ‘Health’ in Your Right to Know goes into greater detail about drug safety and the lack of information given to the public. A number of informative articles and suggestions for campaign action in this country can be found on the website No Free Lunch, run by a group of UK healthcare providers concerned about drug companies’ over-zealous promotional practices.

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