Business and Human Rights
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Business and Human Rights

Edited by Wesley Cragg

Topics discussed include the debates leading to the creation of the ISO 26000 standard and the United Nations human rights framework for business entities, as well as the nature and limits of the human rights responsibilities of business, the roles and responsibilities of international trade bodies like the World Trade Organization in protecting human rights, and the implications of the current debate for international trade agreements and trade with China. The contributors also explore the effectiveness of voluntary human rights standards in the textile and clothing trade, mining, advertising and the pharmaceutical industries.
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Chapter 10: To ban or not to ban: direct-to-consumer advertising and human rights analysis

Alex Wellington


The topic of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of pharmaceuticals has provoked a flurry of discussion and prompted heated policy debates, appearing prominently and frequently in the pages of medical journals and newspapers around the globe. The Australian Medical Association (2007) defines DTCA as follows: advertising directed at the general public that may include any statement, pictorial representation or design, intended directly or indirectly only to promote the use of therapeutic goods as well as medical and health-related services. At present, all of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, other than New Zealand and the United States, have in place prohibitions against what are known as ‘product claim’ advertisements, that is, ones that refer to a condition to be treated and a prescription drug treatment by name together, and make claims about the effectiveness of the named drug for that condition. Such ads must either include or make reference to sources which set out risk information. There are two other types of direct-to-consumer ads: one referred to as ‘reminder’ ads and the other as ‘help-seeking ads’. Reminder ads provide only brand identification without mentioning conditions or diseases the product could be used to treat. Help-seeking or disease awareness ads, otherwise known as ‘Ask Your Doctor’ ads, typically recommend that people who suffer from a condition or disease consult their physicians to obtain further information about it. Consumers may also be invited to seek out information about a disease from other sources, and those may contain information about individual branded products.

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