The Government’s plans to change the way ads for medicines and
drugs are regulated have been attacked as ’too draconian’ by the Liberal
On the eve of next week’s Liberal Democrat conference in Harrogate, the
party backed the ad industry’s criticisms of the Government’s move to
scrap the existing self-regulatory system for medicines.
Dr Evan Harris, a Lib Dem health spokesman, warned that advertisers
could face ’threats’ to withdraw ads by the Medicines Control Agency,
which is being given extra powers by ministers. Harris suggested the new
rules may be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. He is
worried that the officials who pre-vet drugs at the agency could later
be asked to rule on complaints about the same ads.
Replying to the Lib Dem protests, the health minister, Tessa Jowell,
told Harris the new system would ’clarify and strengthen existing
She said: ’The Medicines Control Agency undertakes pre-publication
assessment of advertising in exceptional circumstances only and has no
intention of extending that role.’
The minister denied there was provision under the new rules for the
agency to threaten to issue a notice banning an ad. Orders forcing an
ad’s withdrawal would not be automatic, and the agency would discuss
problems with advertising with the company concerned in an attempt to
secure acceptable changes.