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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 13:38 GMT
Clampdown on misleading drug ads
Pills
Drug adverts are closely monitored
Companies who use misleading advertising to promote drugs and other medical products will be "named and shamed", the regulator has announced.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) plans to clampdown on poor advertising.

It will target inflated claims about a product's effectiveness, and the use of confusing information.

As well as pursuing legal action where appropriate, the MHRA will publish advert reviews on its website.

The key principle behind the guidelines is that they must protect the public, by preventing people from being misled by poor advertising
Professor Kent Woods
Companies which regularly breach the guidelines will have their whole advertising portfolio scrutinised to make sure they meet the required standards.

The MHRA said it would also speed up its advertising review process while making sure investigations were still given thorough and rigorous consideration.

Confusion

Professor Kent Woods, MHRA chief executive, said: "Most pharmaceutical advertising is carefully and responsibly put together, and the very best advertising helps health professionals and the public to make informed choices about healthcare.

"However, we have seen a number of examples of poor practice, where advertising is confusing or misleading.

"It is vital that we tackle this type of poor practice swiftly and effectively.

"The key principle behind the guidelines is that they must protect the public, by preventing people from being misled by poor advertising."

The new guidance was launched at a MHRA seminar on advertising in London on Tuesday.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, welcomed the clampdown, stressing that pharmaceutical companies should only publish advertising that was ethical, responsible and accurate.

Dr Richard Barker, ABPI director general, said: "It is quite right that company advertisements, as well as their broader relationships with healthcare professionals, should be open to public scrutiny."


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