The Forum has stressed the importance of the internet and non-traditional channels of communication in its contribution to the European Patients' Forum and patient group allies' response to the European Commission's consultation on a legislative proposal on information to patients.
As a member of the EPF, the EMHF endorsed its response highlighting the view that men, especially poorer ones, tend to rely on peer experience and use 'non-traditional' channels such as the internet to receive health information.
The EMHF also stressed the need for a breadth of information. 'Information on prescription-only medicinal products represents but one part of a needed comprehensive health information strategy which would take into consideration health literacy, access to and provision of health-related information relating to health promotion, prevention, and treatment,' said EMHF Director Erick Savoye.
Welcoming the wide dissemination of information including on television, the EMHF warned that it must maintain the confidence of citizens, regulators and healthcare professionals. 'Emotional factors inherent to broadcasted media experiences are likely to make it difficult to dsitinguish between advertising and the presentation of objective information. This may lead to the perception that prescription drugs are advertised through the back door,' said Erick.
'The internet remains a main channel of health information for men of all ages where they will seek and receive information without the health literacy that would enable them to effectively act upon it,' Erick concluded. 'They are at greater risk of using counterfeit medicines and to follow potentially misleading health advice. In addition to regulating information, this proposal should also include targeted national awareness campaigns about the dangers of unregulated health information, particularly for prescription medicines.'