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MHRA seeks views on removing small print from medicines advertisements

The UK medicines regulator wants to change the law to remove detailed information about a product from some printed advertisements and replace it with a link to a website.

The proposal would only apply to the small print that traditionally appears on advertisements for medicines in journals and other publications directed at healthcare professionals and medicines retailers. This typically includes a product’s indication for use, dosage, contraindications, safety precautions and side effects.

The move follows a request from the pharmaceutical industry, which argues that it would reduce administrative work and save money. The idea was first mooted in response to the Government’s 2012 Red Tape Challenge.

Three options have been put forward by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency as part of its consultation, which runs until 22 April 2014.

The first is that the adoption of a website link to the prescribing information would apply to all general sale list medicines, including traditional herbal medicines and homoeopathic remedies.

Introducing the weblink on advertisements for pharmacy-only (P) medicines that have been available for a suggested two years is another option.

The MHRA notes that a solution would be sought to ensure that such changes would not apply to GSL and P medicines promoted for prescription supply.

The industry and the MHRA estimates that around £160,000 a year could be saved if these changes were applied to the 20 most popular over-the-counter medicines.

The MHRA is also seeking views on a third proposal: whether the advertisement weblink should go direct to the summary of product characteristics rather than the prescribing information alone. This, according to MHRA estimates, could save the industry £800,000 a year.

No changes are proposed to the requirements for advertising medicines to the public.

The proposed changes to legislation, which apply throughout the UK, would require amendments to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11135462

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