The impetus for a major project on pharmaceutical promotion originated at the May 1999 meeting of the WHO/Public-Interest Nongovernmental Organizations Roundtable on Pharmaceuticals. Unethical and inappropriate drug promotion has been a continuing concern of both NGOs and the WHO. At the 1997 Roundtable on WHO's Ethical Criteria for Medicinal Drug Promotion there was firm agreement that inappropriate promotion of medicinal drugs remains a problem both in developing and developed countries.
Although there is an abundance of information about drug promotion it had never been fully documented and as such organizations, governments, individuals and others were restricted in their ability to access the breadth of knowledge that had been accumulated, to analyse it, to learn from it and to expand on it. Therefore, the first phase of the promotion project was to collect, analyse and make publicly accessible as wide a range of material as possible that described, analysed, reported or commented on any aspect of pharmaceutical promotion.
This drug promotion project is a collaboration between the WHO Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy (EDM) and Health Action International (HAI) Europe.