EU Regulation Puts Irish Patients at Risk, Says Freedom Institute: New Survey Reveals That Patients Lack Information about New Medicines

Business Editors/Health Editors

DUBLIN, Ireland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 13, 2005--The Freedom Institute, a Dublin-based think tank dedicated to developing policies to make Ireland a better place to live, today released the results of an opinion poll revealing that most Irish citizens believe all information about medicines should be made available to the public and that barely a fraction think it should be illegal for pharmaceutical companies to tell citizens about new medicines.

"This poll clearly shows that Irish patients want an increase in the amount of information currently available to them about the range of medicines they could be taking," said John McGuirk, Director of the Freedom Institute. "When asked if all information about medicines should be available to the public, 61 percent said they strongly agreed, and only 23 percent said that they thought it should remain illegal for the companies that make the medicines to tell consumers about their products."

Under existing EU law, pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to inform patients about new treatment options and medicines. Therefore, patients can only receive information from their doctor or third party groups, such as patient associations. However, the survey shows that Irish citizens have greater trust in information from companies (46%) than in information from third parties (41%).

The primary goal of the poll, designed by Omnibus research and carried out by Lansdowne Market Research, was to assess the attitudes of Irish citizens towards the prescription of medication. Interviews were conducted on 1,200 adults over the age of 15, and quotas were imposed to ensure the sample was representative of age, sex, social class and region.

Mr. McGuirk said that the results clearly demonstrate that patients don't know enough about the different medications available to decide which is best and desire more information from their doctors about the various treatments available. They want to be better informed when talking to doctors about what is best for them.

"57% of Irish people say that their doctors are not letting them know of all the treatments that are available to them, and 69% say that they would like to hear about medicines that are on the market before falling ill, so as to be in a position to make an informed decision in potentially difficult circumstances."

The poll also found that 81 percent have never used the Internet to search for information about any illness or the range of treatments available for those illnesses, although anecdotal reports suggest that many people seek information about medicines from internet sites outside Europe. The poll leaves open the question of whether this avenue is an option only to an internet-savvy elite.

"If doctors are not telling patients what medicines are available and patients are not researching options on their own, how many patients could be taking a more effective medication - or worse, could be at present going untreated?" said McGuirk.

"Consider women suffering from osteoporosis," said McGuirk. "In many cases, a woman has to break her hip or a leg before the doctor tells her about medicine that could have prevented the fracture from happening in the first place. EU regulations should be changed to prevent these situations, which are not only unfair to citizens but also a tremendous waste of resources."

The Freedom Institute is Ireland's Centre for Social, Economic and Political Studies. The Institute is a radical new initiative, designed to develop policies to make Ireland a better place for all of its citizens. Their principles include pro-freedom, pro-enterprise, limited government and strengthened security. Email infor@freedominst.org for more information or visit www.freedominst.org.


Freedom Institute

John McGuirk, (+353) 86 083 2011