Materia Medica Malaysiana

March 14, 2007

Doctors ‘in cahoots with drug companies’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:55 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some doctors are working with drug companies to promote their products to patients.
These include prescription drugs for diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, infertility, impotency, heart problems and kidney failure.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer Indrani Thuraisingham said although there were no official statistics, it was “a well-known fact” that medical representatives approached doctors to promote their products.
She said doctors were supplied with free samples by pharmaceutical companies to be given to patients.
“We are worried over this development. Some doctors may opt for these drugs despite the presence of cheaper alternatives.”
She said the samples might not have gone through sufficient testings and could be detrimental to the health of patients.
“We are also concerned that these companies may give financial incentives to the doctors because there were such cases overseas.”
She said the companies were also advertising their products through magazines and posters at clinics and sponsoring disease awareness campaigns — a violation under the Medicine (Advertisement and Sales) Act 1956.
National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) director Darshan Singh said misleading advertisements and claims formed most of the 338 complaints on medicine and health products received by the centre last year. In 2005, it received 600 complaints.
Although the number of complaints had dropped by more than 50 per cent, Darshan is still worried.
“The decrease could be due to people’s reluctance to come forward and complain,” he said.
As a result, Fomca is working with the Health Ministry to address this problem in conjunction with Consumers International’s World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2007 tomorrow, with the theme “Unethical Drug Promotion”.
Indrani said a nationwide awareness campaign and a survey targeted at doctors and the public would also be held this year.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek is expected to launch the campaign in June.

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