If you’re European and find yourself jealous of the many options pharma companies have for advertising in the United States, you will be happy to learn that
four of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies are proposing to launch a television station to tell the public about their drugs, amid strenuous lobbying across Europe by the industry for an end to restrictions aimed at protecting patients. Pharma TV would be a dedicated interactive digital channel funded by the industry with health news and features but, at its heart, would be detailed information from drug companies about their medicines.
Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Novartis and Procter & Gamble, are behind the pilot, which they are offering to the European commission as a way to give patients more information. The industry has been lobbying in Europe to be allowed direct access to patients. It argues that lifting restrictions would help its competitiveness and has hinted that companies may relocate to the US, where they can advertise to patients who then demand drugs from their doctors. Profits have soared there as a result.
Of course, pesky things like the detrimental effects to patients and the inaccurate information provided by pharmaceutical industry advertisements, playing down the risks and emphasizing the rewards, are all just part of the fun when proposing a self-regulating, on demand channel of 24/7 advertainment.