• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 13/10/2003

    Medicines given Scottish public's vote of confidence but patients want more information

Seven out of 10 Scottish patients are confident that the benefits of taking medicines outweighs the risks, with half of those polled believing the benefits far outweigh the risks, according to a recent MORI poll commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) in Scotland.


​In addition, a significant number of the public do not believe that there is enough information about medicines available to them, and that there should be a variety of sources from which that information may be freely obtained, including the researchers, developers and manufacturers of prescription medicines.

Currently, the only legal way in which pharmaceutical companies can communicate directly with patients and their carers about individual medicines is through the highly regulated patient information leaflets (PILs) that are provided when medicines are dispensed.

While GPs and pharmacists are, and will remain, a prime source for patients to obtain information about the medicines prescribed to them, the results of a similar survey carried out on a UK wide basis as part of Ask About Medicines Week (October 12-18) have indicated that information provided by pharmaceutical companies PILs are seen by patients as trustworthy and are a helpful source of information, but are limited by a host of regulations as to the type and amount of information they can provide.

"The findings of the Scottish survey are a major vote of confidence by the Scottish public of the benefits of taking medicines. This reflects the advances in effectiveness of treatments, often with fewer side effects, so that people are now living full and independent lives with conditions that were previously untreatable," said Jim Eadie, Director of ABPI Scotland.

"The public are calling for a change in the types of credible medicines information and the ways in which they can access it. It takes up to 12 years to develop a new medicine, so it is obvious that the industry has far more high quality information and expertise in this area than anyone else. It is only right that the pharmaceutical industry should be allowed to play its part."

"Let's be clear, we are not talking about product advertising, but about removing restrictions that prevent us from responding to patients who are seeking more information than we can currently provide."

The questions were asked in a survey - conducted by MORI as part of the Ask About Medicines Week initiative - into the use of prescription medicines by the general public. The response to one question showed that the majority of people rated the benefits of medicines far above the risks, with only eight per cent saying the risks outweighed the benefits.

When asked if it is valuable to have a range of different types of information about medicines from different sources, half of those asked strongly agreed that this was valuable with only two per cent disagreeing.

Two of the conditions highlighted during the Ask About Medicines Week are epilepsy and asthma. Around 30,000 Scots suffer from epilepsy and more than 300,000 people in Scotland have asthma, both chronic conditions which can strike at any time.

Hilary Mounfield, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Scotland, said: "Patients tell us that they don't get enough information. They need it presented in the right way and in the right form at the right time. I believe that the pharmaceutical industry can contribute more to this process. This is absolutely essential to the well being of people with chronic conditions like epilepsy - and our aim is to help in a similar way through our freephone helpline."

Marjory Burns, Director, National Asthma Campaign Scotland said: "We find that people with asthma consistently say they need more information about their treatment from everyone involved in health care. Modern asthma treatments are safe and effective, so few people with asthma should suffer long-term symptoms. However, problems arise because many people receive treatments that are not the best for them or are not shown how to take them in the most effective way,"

"We hope Ask About Medicines Week will encourage people with asthma to talk more openly to their doctors, their nurses and their pharmacists to ensure that they are getting the right medicines for them and taking them at the right time and in the right way"   

For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410

  1. The Scottish survey was funded by ABPI Scotland and carried out by NFO WorldGroup on behalf of MORI Scotland
  2. The UK survey was funded by the Medicines Partnership, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Merck Sharp & Dohme.
  3. Ask About Medicines Week is an initiative happening across Great Britain to help promote partnership in medicine taking between medicine users, carers and health professionals. Ask About Medicines Week will take place during October 12-18. Further information can be found at http://www.askaboutmedicines.org
  4. Epilepsy and Asthma are just two of the conditions being highlighted as part of the Ask About Medicines Week. For information on epilepsy help and support please contact Epilepsy Scotland on freephone 0808 800 2 200. For more information on asthma contact National Asthma Campaign Scotland on 0131 226 2401.
  5. The following people are available for interview representing epilepsy and medicines: Please contact Yvonne White to arrange interviews on 0131 247 3689.

Liz Collins, aged 50 from Glasgow - has tonic clonic seizures and by taking medication she became seizure free for nearly 3 years (2000-2003). While she's recently started to have some seizures during her sleep, Liz feels the benefits of taking anti-epileptic medication help to limit the number of seizures and this gives her more control of her life.

Liz prefers telephone interviews as she's recuperating at home after a recent stint in hospital

Gary McGale, aged 30 from Glasgow - used to have tonic clonic and absence seizures but has been seizure-free for many years thanks to anti-epileptic medication. Gary is currently a Glasgow Hackney cab driver and has recently become a Dad to baby son Aaron. The benefits of taking medication are that Gary has no seizures and can continue his livelihood as a cab driver.

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