Headlines: October 19th, 2000

A new piece of work on the use of medicines in this country has concluded that it might be time to advertise prescription-only drugs.The authors suggest that the public – users of medicines – are currently being left out of an important debate about what medicines should be available on prescription, partly at least through restrictions on pharmaceutical companies spreading the word about their wares.

Health, Wealth and Medicines for All? by Andrew Tucker and David Taylor argues that the public has mixed loyalties over the pharmaceutical industry.

It wants to keep the NHS prescriptions bill down, but it does not want to see the industry in this country damaged through restriction, or useful medicines fail to be developed.

The authors argue that without informed public debate, Britain could lose its pharmaceutical science based industry.

They say that as a result of current rules some valuable therapies – like nicotine replacement – are underused, while other treatments – for example tranquillisers – have been used to excess.

Health, Wealth and Medicines for All?, by Andrew Tucker and David Taylor, is available from the King’s Fund on 020 7307 2591, price 6.99 pounds.