Association Of NZ Advertisers IncAssociate Minister of Health
Mr Irwin, Mr O'Reilly, honoured guests, thank for the opportunity to address you this evening.
It's always a pleasure to be working in a field of endeavour where there is so much harmony and general agreeableness.
In acknowledging this launch of an Advisory Service for those contemplating advertising pharmaceutical drugs directly to the public, I must commend the industry for directly confronting the ethical and legal problems that are involved in DTC advertising.
As you are aware, there is often concern from governments around the world that DTC advertising can unnecessarily drive up the public demand for expensive drugs, often through emotive and sometimes misleading advertising.
There are a number of agencies, among them, it must be said, PHARMAC, which remain somewhat unconvinced that we need DTC advertising of pharmaceutical drugs.
You may have noted critical comment at the weekend from Sandra Coney in response to what I consider was a very successful meeting recently in Bowen House among a broad spectrum of interest groups - PHARMAC, drug companies, the Consumers' Institute etc.
It's disappointing that, no matter what efforts are made to resolve a problem, some people only want to criticise, without ever offering anything constructive.
I, on the other hand, want to congratulate the industry for accepting the need for self-regulation in this area.
Currently, the Government has no plans to stop DTC advertising of pharmaceutical drugs, but I urge you to work vigorously to ensure that the ads that do emerge abide by the provisions of the various Acts that govern medical advertising.
Otherwise, future governments may not look as kindly on DTC advertising as this one.
Finally, may I say how much more pleasant it has been to experience the way the various health interest groups in the pharmaceutical sector have worked together this year. Last year, it was all public abuse and lawyers at fifty paces.
Today, we see constructive meetings such as those at Whitianga marae, Bowen House and Tapu Te Ranga marae.
Long may such constructive engagement continue.
I warmly commend the Therapeutic Advertising Advisory Service to you.