Ads rarely show clear warnings

Pharmaceutical firms earn millions by investing in major advertising campaigns for drugs that are sometimes useless, and therefore harmful, apart from the fact that they are usually imitations of previous versions of the same drug. These advertisements include drugs that are on the OTC list (an international list of non-prescription drugs) as well as prescription drugs. There is a total ban on the advertising of the latter. The former may be advertised only if attention is paid to the instructions and contra-indications. Phrases promising health and vitality to those who use these preparations are not allowed. «Advertisements for non-prescription drugs hardly ever contain the warnings: ‘read the side-effects’ or ‘consult your doctor,’ as the law requires,» said Ioannis Papadopoulos, who headed the survey. «In cases where these warnings exist, they are in very fine print, or are flashed very rapidly across the bottom of the television screen. I wonder what the National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) and the Health Ministry are doing to protect the population.» «I have informed the authorities about these violations of the law and the risks involved but I have not received any answer. It is as if they don’t care about public health. Yet if this situation continues without any repercussions for the firms violating the law, then the way will be open for serious harm to be inflicted on the population by the unrestricted use of medications. In that case, it is the consumers who suffer. They are deceived into thinking that the medication will help them, yet are unaware of the inherent risks which can be serious, as well as not knowing which combinations of drugs are dangerous.»