No health care information please, we’re Canadian

  • by: |
  • 10/12/2006
Maclean's, Mon 16 Oct 2006


In the pivotal courtroom scene from A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise shouts, "I want the truth!" at Jack Nicholson, whose truculent character is testifying. "You can't handle the truth!" Nicholson famously retorts. Today, in a real-life courtroom drama, CanWest MediaWorks Inc. has, in a manner, assumed Cruise's role, with a somewhat less altruistic goal in mind than simple verity.

In a civil lawsuit now before Ontario's Superior Court of Justice, CanWest contends Canadians are being denied important truths about prescription medications because of strict limits on drug advertising. Canada's largest media company claims the regulations thwart its constitutional right to freedom of expression.

CanWest's suit against the attorney general of Canada casts the country's Food and Drugs Act as the villain. The act forbids direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) that ties a prescription drug to a treatment, cure or disease. (It is illegal for CanWest to, for instance, run an ad to promote Viagra for impotence, but quite legal to separately publicize the brand, or the condition; there are no such restrictions on ads that target physicians exclusively in, say, trade journals.) In a sworn statement, Arturo Duran, a CanWest MediaWorks president, claims permitting DTCA in Canada would educate the public about drug risks and benefits. "There is no evidence to justify a ban on truthful advertising of prescription drugs," Duran says.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog