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Canadian drug companies are able to advertise prescription drugs in Canada due to a legal loophole. These drug companies’ advertisements may also be for drugs that are a risk to the health of the consumer. The loophole exploits a change in federal policy that permits drug companies to place a reminder ad in the media. A reminder ad may state the drug’s brand name and its price but it cannot say what the drug is for. There’s no need for drug companies to explain the benefits or risks of the drug, either.
Although the reminder ad initiative by the Government of Canada was intended to encourage price competitive medication, lack of information by Canadian drug companies on the drugs that are being advertised can pose a risk to health. Generally, it was believed that if a patient viewed a reminder ad, they were more likely to enquire about it from the physician and possibly obtain a prescription.
Prescription Canadian Drugs
Drugs that should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription are sold by Canadian drug companies due to legal loopholes. The pharmaceutical industry in Canada has safety information on prescription drugs but as these are termed as trade secret, they are not publicly available. The safety of prescription drugs on the market has become a hot topic of debate in Canadian drug industry sector after a Conservative Member of Parliament introduced a private members Bill in April 2009 on the requirement for a drug safety agency that has no ties with the drug companies.
The Bill, initiated by the MP for Oakville, Terence Young, came about as a result of Young’s teenage daughter’s sudden death in March 2000 as a reaction to ingesting the prescription drug, Prepulsid. The drug was used to treat his daughter’s mild bulimia. The ensuing focus on the drug companies forced the drug to be pulled from the Canadian market in August 2000. Young authored a book called ‘Death by Prescription’ which has a lot to say about Canadian drug companies and the safety of prescription drugs.
The Government of Canada permits Canadian drug companies to run reminder ads in an effort to encourage lower prices of medicines. The safety of prescription drugs may have to be independently checked if a private member’s Bill is successful.