Gov’t Supports Drive to Educate Consumers Against Unethical Drug Use

Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has said that the government was in full support of the international drive to educate consumers about the potential risks of unethical marketing practices by unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies.
The Minister, in his message to mark World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) today (March 15) under the theme: ‘Unethical Drug Promotion and Use’, pointed out that while there was no evidence of questionable relationships between pharmaceutical companies and physicians in Jamaica, the issue of unethical drug use should be of concern to citizens, especially with the availability of illegal bleaching creams on the market.
“The popular use of steroids in prescribed amounts that are currently available on the streets of Kingston for bleaching the skin needs to be curtailed, reduced or banned and penal sanctions handed down to illegal importation of such products,” the Minister said.
He warned that, “if the practice of bleaching the skin with massive amounts of steroids and household chemicals continues, the Ministry of Health will be faced with an epidemic within a matter of a few years”.
World Consumer Rights Day 2007, the Minister noted, “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 invest billions of dollars into marketing firms, which create sustained campaigns aimed at ailing persons, doctors, pharmacists and relatives of convalescent consumers.”
He added that Consumer International, the international consumer advocacy group, has noted that by sponsoring patient pressure groups, funding disease awareness campaigns and offering favours to medical experts, drug companies have found new and effective ways to influence consumer opinion.
Minister Paulwell said that the government would continue to “pursue policies which hold the industry accountable for compliance with global codes for ethical drug promotion and rigorously enforce regulations on drug promotion in order to uphold the right of the consumer to credible, reliable and transparent drug and health information”.
“Let us grasp the simple truth that we are all consumers and so the promotion and protection of consumer rights must remain everybody’s business, particularly when it relates to our health and well-being,” Minister Paulwell urged.
An annual observance since 1983, World Consumer Rights Day is an opportunity to focus on and solidify the national and international consumer movement. During this time, special efforts are undertaken to promote the basic rights of all consumers and to demand that those rights are respected and protected. The day also presents an opportunity to highlight and protect market place abuses, which threaten to undermine consumer rights.

JIS Social