Friday, June 26, 2009

Health Canada to crack down on TV ads for vaccines

From the National Post:
Health Canada says it is cracking down on the growing number of TV ads that tout the benefits of vaccines for everything from hepatitis to travellers' diarrhea, yet say little about the products' risks and other shortcomings.

Responding to outside complaints, the department has persuaded some manufacturers to change "unbalanced" commercials, issued letters urging the industry to include both negative and positive information in ads and begun developing new vaccine marketing guidelines.

The action highlights, however, the fact that vaccine advertising falls into a legal grey area with little regulation - in contrast to the tight restrictions placed on consumer ads for prescription drugs.

Health Canada still has no plans to make vaccines subject to similarly stringent rules, but the measures it is taking are welcome and overdue, said the head of a marketing review agency.

"There are gaps in the system and this is one that a truck could drive through," said Ray Chepesiuk, commissioner of the Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board. "We consider [vaccines] to be serious medicine that have some risks - safety information the public should be aware of.... You can't say all good things and ignore the bad things." ...more

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