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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26388

Senator NETTLE (6:01 PM) —I move to another area of questioning now. Still within pharmaceuticals, annex 2-C5 headed `Dissemination of information' says:

Each Party shall permit a pharmaceutical manufacturer to disseminate to health professionals and consumers through the manufacturer's Internet site registered in the territory of the Party, and on other Internet sites registered in the territory of the Party linked to that site ...

My understanding is—and the minister can correct me if this is not the case—that direct marketing from pharmaceutical companies to consumers is prohibited under the law in Australia. Direct marketing to doctors is not prohibited, but direct marketing to consumers is illegal in Australia. This section of the annex talks about pharmaceutical manufacturers being able to put their information on the Internet. That would appear to me to be direct marketing to consumers because, clearly, we cannot limit access to the Internet only to doctors, who can currently be marketed to. Can the minister explain that issue and explain whether the agreement contravenes the current legal situation in Australia?