JIS News

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) will join consumer groups around the world in observing World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on March 15 under the theme: ‘Unethical Drug Promotion’.
Speaking at JIS Think Tank recently (March 7), Chief Executive Officer at the CAC, Dolsie Allen, said that the annual celebration provided the opportunity to focus on and solidify the national and international consumer movement.
“At this time, special effort is being undertaken to promote the basic rights of all consumers and protest the market abuses, which threaten to undermine them,” Mrs. Allen stated.
The CEO noted that the chosen theme “points to the need for transparent marketing practices as an essential element of corporate social responsibility, particularly so in the pharmaceutical industry, where international drug companies plow billions of dollars into convincing doctors, pharmacists and consumers to buy their products.”
She added that Consumer International, the international consumer advocacy group, has noted that by sponsoring patient pressure groups, funding disease awareness campaigns and offering hospitality to medical experts, drug companies have found new and effective ways to influence consumer opinion. The group holds the view that consumers have a right to know whether a doctor’s pattern of prescribing drugs is influenced by a relationship with a drug company.
International drug companies, she continued, while promoting their products, sometimes deliberately suppress the risk and side effects of a particular drug.
Mrs. Allen stated that the Commission was in support of the international move to educate consumers about the potential risks involved when pharmaceutical companies were allowed to market their products.
“As a consumer advocacy group, we are very concerned that in our Jamaican scenario, we are not very conscious and aware of these kinds of unethical practices that take place on the international scene,” the CEO pointed out.
She added that although research has indicated that the matter of unethical drug promotion was not an issue in Jamaica, consumers need to be sensitized about the issue so they can “be a little more vigilant, searching, and ask basic questions when they go to the doctor.”
“It is not that we are trying to instill any form of distrust.but we want people to know that whatever happens elsewhere can happen in Jamaica,” she stressed adding that, “as Jamaicans, we need to take the matter of our health into our own hands as part of our responsibility as consumers.”
To observe World Consumer Rights Day, the CAC in collaboration with the National Consumers’ League, will be staging several activities including a church service at the St. Luke’s Anglican Church on Sunday, March 11 at 7:30 a.m.; mini exhibits highlighting the theme at selected parish libraries in the three counties; the reading of a message from Minister of Industry Technology, Energy and Commerce (MITEC), Phillip Paulwell, at church services on March 10 and 11 and in 150 schools on WCRD.
The celebration will culminate with the live broadcast of TVJ’s ‘Your Issues Live’ at Mandela Park at 8:00 p.m. on March 15. The discussions will focus on ‘Motor Vehicle Pre-purchase Pitfalls and Repair Hazards’, a topic which the CAC’s has found to be of greatest concern for Jamaica’s consumers.
The CAC is an agency of the MITEC, with a mandate to safeguard the rights and responsibilities of consumers.