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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


VACCA, Claudia; VARGAS, Claudia; CANAS, Martín  and  REVEIZ, Ludovic. Drug advertising and promotion: regulations and extent of compliance in five Latin American countries. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.29, n.2, pp.76-83. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze differing regulations regarding drug promotion, and the extent of compliance as seen in samples of advertising directed to the public in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru. METHODS: A total of 683 pieces of promotional material on display in health facilities, pharmacies, and on the street were collected, 132 of which were randomly selected for analysis. The regulations governing pharmaceutical advertising, taken from official websites and interviews with regulatory officials and Ministry of Health staff in the five countries covered, were reviewed, along with their adherence to the ethical criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO). The contents of the materials in the sample were evaluated to determine their degree of compliance with national regulations and WHO recommendations on drug promotion. RESULTS: The countries have regulations incorporating WHO ethical criteria. Over 80% of the material analyzed included the indications for the drug, while over 70% omitted information on adverse effects. Fifty percent of the advertisements for overthe-counter (OTC) drugs on display in pharmacies listed indications not approved by the relevant health authority. In advertising in pharmacies, the risks from inadequate information were not found to differ significantly for OTC or prescription medications. Compared with materials provided in health facilities, the relative risk of the absence of information on dosage in the material distributed in pharmacies was 2.08 (confidence interval 95% 1.32-3.39). CONCLUSIONS: Although regulations on drug promotion and advertising in the five countries studied generally incorporate the WHO recommendations, promotional materials often fail to reflect the fact.

Keywords : Drug publicity; ethics, pharmacy; products publicity control; nonprescription drugs; prescription drugs; Argentina; Colombia; Ecuador; Nicaragua; Peru; Latin America.

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