"Check-up Your Medicines to Save Your Life"

No.5 Antibiotics

Message from Aborad

Thanks to Kusuri-no-Check (JDBCP: Japanese drug bulletin for consumers and professionals),
Japan Takes the Lead

Gilles Bardelay
Director General, La Revue Prescrire (France)

Throughout the world, the quality of health care is determined by a shifting balance of power between four major players.
The first corresponds to the group most immediately concerned by the quality of health care, namely patients and their relatives. This is also the largest and, often, the most poorly informed group, and is influenced by opinion-makers such as the media. Patients express needs, fears and desires. And, when it comes to their health, they have certain habits, perceptions, beliefs, and demands.

The second major player is represented by health care professionals in both the private and public sectors, who have their own media, unions, and training organisations. Their opinions and actions influence patients and consumers, who in turn exert continuous pressure on them.

Policy makers, regulators, administrators in health ministries and welfare organisations, who set the ground rules, constitute the third player. Their role is essential. Society expects them to manage day-to-day affairs equitably and also to pave the way for improvements. They have a major influence on the behaviour of the first two players, but must also take the views and needs of the latter into account.

Thus, patients, health care professionals and regulatros create a dynamic marketplace in health care. It is in the drug market that the fourth player, the drugs and medical devices companies exert their influence.

Industry is the most dynamic and flexible player. Its aim being to sell a maximum of its merchandise, private enterprise strives to ensure that the other three players perceive their products as indispensable-regardless of the means employed.

How do the other three players react? Do they try to sort the wheat from the chaff; the useful, beneficial and innovative from the superfluous? And how susceptible are they to marketing ploys, gifts, sponsoring, and advertising?

Without an independent information system truly acting on their behalf, patients and health care proffesionals will always be the playthings of the industrial sector, and will be regularly caught off guard by health disasters. A sound, independent media is required to convey relevant, balanced information.

The drugs industry is increasingly targeting the general public directly, thereby bypassing health care professionals. But patients, bombarded as they are with frequently conflicting reports, are starting to demand reliable information.

We are entering a new era of health information sharing between patients and health care professionals, based on equal access to the same independent information sources. This can only made both parties more responsible.

JDBCP is a ground-breaker in this movement, and its example should be followed in every country.