News release

Drug Advertising and Legal Aid Issues

The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women is demanding the federal government enforce the rules outlawing prescription drug advertising.

The council decided at its weekend meeting to write federal Health Minister Allan Rock requesting his department take action on this issue.

"Canadians need to take a stand on what's important to them," said Patricia Doyle-Bedwell, chair of the advisory council. "Pharmaceutical companies in Canada are not supposed to directly advertise their prescription drugs, yet we are seeing more and more of these ads."

The council considers this an important issue particularly when it sees birth control pills advertised on MuchMusic or last- resort acne medication advertised in women's change rooms.

"Advertising adds to the cost of medications," said Ms. Doyle- Bedwell. "It also promotes the use of a particular drug without mention of possible side-effects which should be discussed with a doctor."

She said the council wants Mr. Rock to enforce the law and not allow the increase in such advertising as has been the case in the United States. Council members consider it unacceptable that Canada appears to be adopting U.S. standards on prescription drug advertising.

Ms. Doyle-Bedwell said the council also discussed legal aid funding. Members strongly support continued funding for Dalhousie Legal Aid Services particularly the work in poverty and human rights law.

"We see Dal legal aid as being one of the only services to offer help to those who have no other means of legal support," said Ms. Doyle-Bedwell. "The legal aid commission needs to be able to account for the money it spends on services, but Dal legal aid should also be able to use money from its other sources to continue its work in poverty and human rights law."

Five new members were welcomed to the advisory council at this regular meeting. They are Sheila Lewis, Cheryl Bell, Linda Carvery, Doreen Paris and Chantal Richard.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women wants the federal health minister to take action against prescription drug advertising.

Chair Patricia Doyle-Bedwell says the council is writing Allan Rock to demand he enforce the law that restricts open advertising by drug companies.

She says such ads are becoming more and more common in spite of Canadian law which bans them.

The council also supports continued funding for Dalhousie Legal Aid Services, particularly its work in poverty and human rights law.

Doyle-Bedwell says Dal provides a valuable and much needed service to those who have no other means of legal support.

Both issues were discussed at the council's weekend meeting.

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Contact:

Patricia Doyle-Bedwell
N.S. Advisory Council on the Status of Women 902-494-8810 E-mail:
Barbara Pike
Communications Nova Scotia 902-424-2077 E-mail:
kjd                      June 27, 2000     2:15 p.m.