July 6, 2004
Press Release by the Coalition against BAYER-dangers (Germany)

Voluntary self-control of the pharmaceutical industry is not acceptable

Coalition against Bayer-Dangers describes the "voluntary self-control" of the German pharmaceutical industry as "not acceptable". The member companies of the "Association of researching drug producers" (Verband Forschender Arzneimittelhersteller VFA) recently presented a codex on co-operation between the pharmaceutical industry and medical doctors in order to limit unfair competition and bribery of doctors.

Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition against BAYER-Dangers (CBG): "There is no reason to expect that the pharmaceutical industry will ever put patients rights before profits. Therefore we need a totally restructured control on drugs: independent studies on new drugs, compulsory training of medical doctors without the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry, and government supervision on drugs after their release on the market". Mimkes makes the criticism that so far no proof of effectiveness is required before new drugs are approved. According to CBG European governments need increased administrative and legal power in order to be able to systematically document the side effects of drugs and remove them from the market when necessary. CBG further demands a ban on advertising for drugs.

Pressured by the VFA, the German government stopped the establishment of a list of drugs whose effectiveness is proven. VFA also influenced the decision not to establish a national institute to assure the quality of medical science.

"There is no credibility when the German pharmaceutical industry now acts as a precursor on the front of fighting corruption. For years the companies have hampered the implementation of any measures of control", says Mimkes.

More than 40,000 different drugs are available on the German market while Scandinavian countries only need a few thousands. "No medical doctor can overview this flood of products. Not the most effective drug is prescribed but the product being best advertised", says Jan Pehrke of CBG.

Pehrke also challenges the argument of the pharmaceutical industry that a stronger control of the pharmaceutical market will endanger research. "Companies spend twice as much on marketing as they do research." According to estimates by independent researchers about 250,000 patients annually have to receive in-patient treatment because of the side-effects of drugs. Out of this about 12,000 patients die annually because of pharmaceutical side-effects.