French pop too many pills, says health minister
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France's health minister Xavier Bertrand said on Thursday that the French take too many prescription drugs, as he announced that he favoured a thorough examination of the relationship between drug companies and doctors.
Bertrand unveiled a series of measures aimed at preventing a repeat of the scandal over Mediator, an anti-diabetes drug, which led to the death of hundreds of people in France over a 33 year period, before being withdrawn from the market in November 2009 after a lengthy campaign.
Among the reforms is an obligation that drug companies must declare any agreements or payments they make with research bodies, doctors or the medical press.
A freephone number will be marked clearly on the packaging of any medicines, allowing patients to signal any side effects, and a special logo on some drugs will indicate that they are being particularly carefully monitored.
In a bid to curb the practice of offering sweeteners to doctors who use their products, sales reps for pharmaceutical companies will no longer be able to arrange visits to individual hospital doctors, only group appointments will be allowed.
A recent study by France's national medical insurance body,the CPAM, showed that France is still one of Europe's biggest consumers of medicines.
The report observed that doctors in France prescribed too many different medicines to their patients, who in turn felt cheated if they were not given a long list of products.
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