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Pharmaceutical companies' compliance support programmes: no thank you!

Pharmaceutical companies are really not the best people to remind patients to take their medicine. A French proposal for companies to be allowed to run compliance support programmes must be defeated.

Treatment compliance, i.e. the patient following the health professionals' (doctor and pharmacist) recommendations, has good and bad points. Sometimes it is a pity for the patient to stop the treatment too soon. But there are times when the patient is right: in case of persistent ineffectiveness, confirmed recovery or excessive adverse effects. In any event, it is better for the patient to discuss the matter with trusted health professionals. And common sense suggests that pharmaceutical companies, whose main concern is their drugs' sales volume, are really not best placed to advise patients on the matter directly. And yet pharmaceutical companies are trying to establish their "compliance support" programmes around the world. Their real aim is to curb the loss of revenue due to patients stopping their expensive treatments for chronic illnesses.

These "compliance support" programmes are sneaking onto the French scene. French legislators will soon be called upon to authorise the government to control these programmes by decree, and therefore there will be no possibility of debating the issue! Legislators must refuse to allow this debate to be taken out of their hands and must ask a simple question: how is it possible to imagine that a pharmaceutical company, both player and referee, could be capable of explaining to a patient that it would be better to stop treatment or to switch to a rival company's product?

©Prescrire November 2006

Source: ""Programmes d'aide à l'observance" des firmes pharmaceutiques : non merci !" Rev Prescrire 2006 ; 26 (277) : 779.

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