March 15th - World Consumer Rights Day - The world consumer movement denounces pharmaceutical companies for their marketing practices.

    OTTAWA, March 15 /CNW Telbec/ - On this 15th of March, World Consumer
Rights Day, the Canadian Consumer Initiative (CCI) adds its voice to Consumers
International (CI) in denouncing the lack of ethics by pharmaceutical
companies in drug marketing practices and calling for stricter supervision of
these practices on the part of governments.
    In a recently published report, "Branding the Cure", which reviews
pharmaceutical companies' practices in several countries; Consumers
International denounces numerous marketing strategies it identifies as
unethical. CI cited nearly a thousand cases of pharmaceutical industry
violations of its own voluntary codes. The international consumers
organisation also deplores practices such as: advertisements disguised as
medical information, "disease awareness" ads, the proliferation of
advertising-Web sites, the financing of groups of patients and the granting of
all kinds of benefits to doctors by pharmaceutical companies.
    In Canada, consumer associations have insisted for a long time that the
federal government put a stop to advertisements known as "Ask your doctor'
ads, like the ones concerning Viagra, Cialis or Lipitor, for example. These
commercial advertisements are inexplicably and unjustifiably tolerated by
Health Canada, despite being prohibited by Canadian regulations.
    Canadian consumer associations also denounce the actions of the CanWest
media group which is trying, by means of legal action, to overturn legislative
restrictions and regulations governing drug advertising in Canada.
    For consumer associations, there is no doubt that drug manufacturer
advertising efforts have serious consequences to public health care.
Governments must draft a tight regulatory framework and ensure strict
application of rules in order to limit the risks. "The sad example of Vioxx
reminds us that the utmost vigilance is essential" stresses Charles Tanguay,
in the name of the Canadian Consumer Initiative (CCI).
    The Consumers Union, a member of the CCI, recently launched a major
campaign to pressure the government to tighten its control. Consumers can take
part in this action by familiarising themselves with content of the campaign
on the Internet and by sending an electronic postcard to their member of

    The Canadian Consumer Initiative (CCI) is a coalition of six major
consumer organizations: the Alberta Council on Aging Services, the Automobile
Protection Association, the Consumers Council of Canada, Option consommateurs,
the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and l'Union des consommateurs. In
addition to intervening on specific issues, CCI provides advice and assistance
to enable the federal government to safeguard consumer interests more

For further information:

For further information: Charles Tanguay (L'Union des consommateurs),
(514) 521-6820 ext. 257

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