Will ‘Origin’ Labelling Regain The Public’s Trust In Big Pharma?
The French are asking the EU for new laws over the labelling of pharmaceuticals so that they show their country of origin, but will this really improve trust? This week, Tammy Wiltshire from UK label manufacturer, Labelnet, talked to us about these proposed changes and what they may mean for UK label manufacturing.
According to reports from the European Commission, France is actively seeking new labelling laws for the pharmaceutical industry that will see the introduction of origin labelling within the EU. The call for such labelling has been made on the grounds that patients are demanding greater transparency over exactly where their medication has been produced.
Why accurate labelling matters to consumers
People are becoming more and more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and the increased transparency requested by the French is certain to go down well with consumers. The food industry has been under pressure of late to do more to make their labelling clearer to their customers, so it only seems right that the pharmaceutical industry should follow suit.
It is believed that European patients will feel more comfortable taking both prescription and non-prescription drugs that have been produced within the EU rather than those made further afield. Many regard European standards to be higher than that of their non-European colleagues, so they would be more inclined to opt for a product that has made under what they perceive as a tighter regulatory regime than that of one produced elsewhere.
This increased trust is naturally seen as a huge benefit for European pharmaceutical companies, and some believe that it could even prove to be more important than the ingredients list currently included on the packaging. As many drugs are made up of ingredients that are indistinguishable to the layman, this belief seems to hold water.
Is it all about the consumer?
It would be naïve to think that this new directive is solely based on the public desire for more transparency, however. The pharmaceutical industry is huge, and the fight for market share is an ongoing battle that is being fought largely between the Far East and the Western World.
One would expect, therefore, that should this proposal come to pass it would be a huge win for European business. The improved labelling of all pharmaceuticals sold within the EU would surely see European drug companies share prices rise, wouldn’t it? Well, that may be the case, but the news of this prospective new policy wasn’t greeted with open arms by everybody.
The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) believes that the European Union would serve the general public better if they were to enforce the current legislation more rigorously. The EFPIA represents Europe’s largest drug manufacturers, and many of those companies actually import the ingredients that make up some of their most popular medications from outside of the EU.
They claim that simply linking the country of origin with a product’s quality can be misleading, as some manufacturing plants outside of Europe actually have better quality controls in place than their European counterparts.
A matter of confidence
While the labelling issue may be seen by sceptics as purely a business issue, it is important to remember the fact that those who will ultimately be consuming the product should have as much information about what it is they are taking as possible.
With clearer labelling in place, the end user will regain some of the trust that has been lost in big business of late, and it will also give the pharmaceutical industry the opportunity to prove that they have nothing to hide.