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Medicines (Advertisements)

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health which over the counter medicines are to be freed from the ban on advertising. [130104]

The Government have recently announced their intention to remove the ban on advertising over the counter (OTC) medicines for certain diseases and conditions. The change will mean that if a product is classified as available for purchase by consumers then they will be able to receive advertising about the medicine.The change will affect OTC medicines for the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of bone diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the liver, biliary system and pancreas, endocrine diseases, genetic disorders, joint, rheumatic and collagen diseases, psychiatric diseases, serious disorders of the eye and ear, serious gastrointestinal diseases, serious neurological and muscular diseases, serious renal diseases, serious respiratory diseases and serious skin disorders. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is not aware of any medicines at present classified as suitable for OTC supply in a number of these categories, including psychiatric diseases, endocrine diseases and genetic diseases.Examples of OTC products that will be affected by the change include aspirin 75 mg tablets, calcium/vitamin D preparations, fish oils, isphagula, nitrates and theophylline and aminophylline products. To protect public safety, these changes will not come into force until the necessary guidelines for advertisers are in place and information and training for pharmacy staff have been provided.The ban on advertising any prescription-only medicine to the public will remain.