Rationale, aims and objectives
Between 2001 and 2011 the pharmaceutical industry, supported by DG Enterprise, was engaged in an ongoing campaign to repeal/amend the European Union (EU) ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs (DTCA-PD). As it became increasingly clear that the ban would not be repealed, DTCA-PD supporters tried to shift the debate away from advertising and towards the provision of ‘patient information’ and the rights of patients to access such information. Meanwhile, a variety of national and European health organizations, supported by DG SANCO, sought to maintain the ban and oppose the industry-supported ‘patient information’ campaign. Instead, they promoted a concept of ‘health information’ that included all aspects of citizens' health, not just pharmaceuticals. This article aims to analyse the transition from DTCA-PD to patient information to health information and examine its implications for EU health policy as a complex policy space.