European court says NHS promotion of drugs is legal

The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that financial inducement schemes under which the UK's NHS promotes the prescribing of generic drugs in order to reduce costs are in compliance with an EU directive prohibiting drug promotion.

In its decision, the court said that laws that prevent pharmaceutical companies from advertising or promoting their drugs through financial or other incentives do not apply to not-for-profit organisations, such as the NHS, because their schemes do not "prejudice the objectivity of prescribing doctors." Moreover, the judges ruled that such programmes do not present a danger to public health because "the therapeutic value of the medicinal products favoured is constantly reviewed by the public authorities."

However, the court did note that such organisations are required "to make available to professionals in the pharmaceutical industry information showing that the scheme at issue is based on objective criteria and that there is no discrimination between national medicinal products and those from other member states."

To read more Top Story articles, click here.