Friday, October 06, 2006

Labour attacks free speech - again

Having already suggested prohibiting third parties from funding political parties anonymously, Labour is talking about banning legal companies that produce products that save lives, from advertising. This is even though the products cannot be sold without a prescription from a relevant health professional.
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Labour has support from the Public Health Association, a left wing advocate of state funding and regulation of health care. Apparently the concern is that individuals – clearly too stupid in the eyes of the PHA and the Labour Party to decide what they put into their own bodies – are pressuring doctors to write out prescriptions for medication that may harm them. This ignores the fact that there are also plenty of individuals, who see an advert for medication that may relieve a complaint they have not bothered seeing a doctor about, and then go to the doctor to be checked to see if they are eligible for it.
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Banoholic Sue Kedgley has been pushing this for ages. "prescription medicines, when taken inappropriately, can cause severe illness and even death" she says. Well so can petrol, rat poision, water and "natural remedies".
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Gay Keating says “People may end up paying for medicines that they don't need, and that in the worst case scenario, may actually be harmful to them," well Gay, they might buy shoes they don’t need either, that may be harmful to them – or food, or a car. It is called choice for fuck’s sake.
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Let’s break down the situation simply – there is no force involved, just busybodies who think that consenting adults can’t be trusted to look after themselves. David Farrar says it is an attack on free speech - indeed it is and he takes the line that one should be cautious about restricting it. No Right Turn thinks you need protection from big bad pharmaceutical companies trying to sell you something you might no need - because you're so incompetent. Oops, I mean there are incompetent people, you're not - but hey the state can't make a separate law for you.
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Nevertheless, let's follow this chain of horror that Nanny State just has to stop:
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1. Pharmaceutical company spends its own money developing a drug that has a positive effect upon a medical condition in some way.

2. Pharmaceutical company tests drug to the extent that it can then go through the regulatory hoops to allow it to be legally available in New Zealand.

3. Pharmaceutical company starts selling drug through licenced pharmacists who are competent in dispensing drugs on prescription.

4. Pharmaceutical company uses its own money to pay for advertising on TV channels, radio stations, websites, print media etc. to promote the product. The broadcast advertising is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority.

5. The product is regulated both as medication and in general contract law.

6. A sane adult sees the advertisement and is interested in spending her own money on the drug because it may have positive effects. She wants to ingest it in her body.

7. The sane adult visits her GP and requests the drug. The GP makes an assessment as to whether it is a good idea or not, and either chooses not to write out a prescription (adult then either goes to another GP or gives up) or to write on out.

8. Sane adult go to pharmacy and requests the drug on prescription, receives and pays for it.
9. Pharmacist dispenses the drug and provides advice on how to safely use it.

10. Sane adult uses drug.
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Who is forced here? What is going on except that failed head prefects want to interfere in stage 4.
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National has thankfully said it will oppose moves to regulate such advertising even more. Tony Ryall said, in a rush of blood to his head "This is another example of nanny state 'Labour-knows-best"
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"Consumers have a right to know that these pharmaceuticals are available, and can be accessed. Surely we want a health system where people can make choices and play a role in their own healthcare.”
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Stone the crows, he’s got something right!

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