Controls, common sense and communities

Abstract

The future of drug control and in particular the future of internationalised drug control has in the last few years been the subject of some acrimonious and often unfruitful debates. One of the problems with such debates is that they tend to be conducted as though drugs and controls on drugs were issues in themselves, which can be discussed in isolation from the social situation in which they exist. Within a given country that may to some extent be possible, for the simple reason that the social and legal structure of the country is a matter on which all the participants to the debate are informed and which they implicitly accept as the background to their own points of view. Even at the national level, however, one has to remember that drug supply and the structure of drug control only form part of the entire community health system and cannot usefully be discussed independently of other health matters. Once we move to the international level, things become much more complex; for then we find ourselves debating in a arena in which the face of society, the tradition of medicine and the idea of law may all vary. Only if we take these things into account shall we ever be able to understand how the approach to health legislation and to drugs in particular differs from country to country, why it differs, and what the prospects are of ever bringing these things into line across national frontiers. In this paper, therefore, it is proposed to compare and contrast, on as broad a basis as possible, two areas of Europe within which a trend to internationalisation of health legislation has developed, namely the European Economic Community and the group of five Scandinavian countries linked loosely together in the free association provided by the Nordic Council. Let us say right at the outset, however, that we take these regional units~as such simply because they are there, and not because they are necessarily logical units of comparison. A regional study of drugs in European society could in fact better be made on the basis of a comparison between North and South, since that is where the real differences often lie, as we shall see presently. The EEC, originally comprising six countries, now nine (and within the foreseeable future ten or eleven) had its origin in the European Coal and Steel Community of I951 (MATHIJSEN I958) and the Treaty of Rome of I957 (Treaty t957). That is its essence. It is an association the whole reason for-which is economic, for in these countries one finds Europe's largest suppliers of coal, steel and other major products, and if the future of these countries is to be assured they must work together as a unit in these and other matters. Now an economic union demands the free movement of goods and services; and since that applies to railway waggons and migrant labourers, it also applies to medicines and doctors. For motives which were essentially economic, therefore, and to some extent political, a degree of harmonisation has been imposed in matters which are not of themselves economic, including questions involving health, science and welfare. To what extent the community was and is a sufficiently homogenous society to assimilate all these measures without pain is a matter to which we shall return in due course. The Nordic Countries Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland form a quite different type of unit. There is no economic union between them. They are bound by ties of history, geography and culture, and these ties

DOI: 10.1007/BF02293442

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Cite this paper

@article{Dukes2005ControlsCS, title={Controls, common sense and communities}, author={M . N . G . Dukes and Ingrid Lunde}, journal={Pharmaceutisch weekblad}, year={2005}, volume={1}, pages={1283-1294} }