Close-up image of packets of medicine.

DTCA 2(2)

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Volume 2, Number 2 (August 2005)


Should We Be Concerned About Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs?

Christopher Jordens and Lynley Anderson


Grant Gillett

Recent Developments

Recent Developments in Law

John McPhee and Cameron Stewart


Is Banning Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Medicine Justified Paternalism?

Uvonne Lau
New Zealand is one of two OECD countries in the world where direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicine (DTCA-PM) is permitted. Increase in such activity in recent years has resulted in a disproportionate increase in dispensary volume of heavily advertised medicines. Concern for the potential harm to healthcare consumers and the public healthcare system has prompted the medical profession to call for a ban on DTCA-PM as the best way of protecting the public interest. Such blanket prohibition however also interferes with the public’s right of access to information. This paper will examine if banning DTCA-PM would constitute a justified form of paternalism in the context of today’s New Zealand.

Banning All Drug Promotion Is the Best Option Pending Major Reforms

Peter R. Mansfield
Drug promotion should be evaluated according to its impact on health, access to information, informed consent, and wealth. Drug promotion currently does more harm than good to each of these objectives because it is usually misleading. This is a systemic problem. Whilst improved regulation and education will address it to some degree, major reforms to payment systems for drug companies and doctors are also required. Until all these systemic reforms can be put in place, the best policy option is to ban the promotion of drugs to doctors and the public. Consequently, pending major reforms, it is appropriate for governments to restrict drug promotion as much as is politically achievable.

Original Research

Cancer Patients’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: The Influence of Question Wording and Patients’ Own Definitions on Responses

Lynne Parkinson, Katherine Rainbird, Ian Kerridge, Gregory Carter, John Cavenagh, John McPhee, and Peter Ravenscroft
Objectives: The aims of this study were to: (1) investigate patients’ views on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS), and (2) examine the impact of question wording and patients’ own definitions on their responses. Design: Cross-sectional survey of consecutive patients with cancer. Setting: Newcastle (Australia) Mater Hospital Outpatients Clinic. Participants: Patients over 18 years of age, attending the clinic for follow-up consultation or treatment by a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist or haematologist. Main Outcome Measures: Face-to-face patient interviews were conducted examining attitudes to euthanasia and PAS. Results: 236 patients with cancer (24% participation rate; 87% consent rate) were interviewed. Though the majority of participants supported the idea of euthanasia, patient views varied significantly according to question wording and their own understanding of the definition of euthanasia. Conclusions: Researchers need to be circumspect about framing and interpreting questions about support of “euthanasia,” as the term can mean different things to different people, and response may depend upon the specifics of the question asked.

The Olivieri Case: Lessons for Australasia

Jocelyn Downie, Jon Thompson, Patricia Baird, and Susan Dodds
The case of Dr. Nancy Olivieri, the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto, and Apotex Inc. vividly illustrates many of the issues central to contemporary health research and the safety of research participants. First, it exemplifies the financial and health stakes in such research. Second, it shows deficits in the ways in which research is governed. Finally, it was and remains relevant not only in Toronto but in communities across Canada and well beyond its borders because, absent appropriate policies, what happened in Toronto could have happened (and could well still happen) elsewhere. In Part One of this paper, we review the facts of the Olivieri case relevant to the issues we wish to highlight: first, the right of participants in a clinical trial to be informed of a risk that an investigator had identified during the course of the trial and the obligation of the investigator to inform participants (both her own and those of other investigators); and second, the obligation of institutions to protect and promote the well-being of research participants as well as academic freedom and research integrity, the obligations of research sponsors to inform participants, research regulators, and others about unforeseen risks, and the obligations of research regulators to ensure that participants are informed of unforeseen risks and to otherwise protect and promote research integrity. In Part Two, we relate these facts and issues to New Zealand and Australia. We also make detailed recommendations for changes to the various instruments used for the governance of research involving humans in Australasia.


Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement

Peter Hobbins

Case Studies

Responses to Lynley Anderson and Nikki Cunningham

Mike Carnahan, Julie Park, Justin Denholm, Christopher Newell, and Jean McPherson

In That Case: Call for Responses

Sandy Elkin


Call for Papers
Preliminary Announcement