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New survey to gauge quality of pharma-sponsored health information on the Internet

January 8, 2003 -- As the first step toward developing a code of practice for pharma-sponsored health information on the Net, the Internet Healthcare Coalition in conjunction with Pharma Marketing Network is sponsoring a survey to be run on PollingPharma (

PollingPharma provides an opportunity to collect opinions of individuals working within the global pharmaceutical industry.

In 2002, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) adopted a new marketing code to govern the pharmaceutical industry's relationships with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

"Perhaps it is time for a similar code to be adopted by the industry for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising and especially for marketing to consumers via the Internet," says John Mack, president of the Internet Healthcare Coalition ( "The pharmaceutical industry, directly or indirectly via sponsorships, is the source of a great deal of health information on the Net. By adopting a code of conduct for pharma-sponsored health information on the Net, the industry could have a positive impact on the credibility of this information among the general public. Ideally, this should be a self-regulatory code, based upon the Coalition's e-Health Code of Ethics rather than a series of laws and regulations imposed by a government agency."

Peter Llewellyn, Managing Director of NetworkPharma, Ltd., PollingPharma's parent company, said: "The pharmaceutical industry spends a fortune researching and analyzing the opinions of physicians, patients and consumers, but rarely asks for opinions from its own managers, employees, and their marketing agencies. An important aspect of any self-regulatory system is to raise awareness among the key stakeholders and facilitate buy-in from the people most affected by the code -- the pharma industry itself. Hopefully, this survey will help in this effort."

The survey is running throughout January. To access the survey, visit A full report of the survey results will be available to all who participate. The report will also be available on the Internet Healthcare Coalition's Web site in February.

The Internet Healthcare Coalition is an international, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to educating healthcare consumers and professionals about the evolving issues relating to the quality of Internet health resources and information. In October 1999, the Coalition launched its ongoing "eHealth Ethics Initiative"to provide a forum for the development and promotion of ethical principles for health-related Web sites.

Source: Internet Healthcare Coalition

Posted: January 2003