The government submitted an amendment to the Act on Medicines that would make the clients’ product available on prescription only. The government argued that the client’s product is being bought in bulk by drug addicts and used for a production of Pervitin, favourite cheap local substitute of Heroin. If the amendment was passed, the client would lose 25% of its market revenues in the Czech Republic. The media coverage fuelled the emotions with articles titled “Protect our children against drug addiction!” The case seemed lost.
We were entering a highly emotional debate with the protection of children on one side and the evil interests of foreign pharmaceutical companies on the other. The debate seemed impossible to be won. The first step of the campaign was to change terms of the discourse.
We analyzed both explicit and hidden interests to reveal the real driving forces behind the proposal and to identify potential allies and enemies. In the briefing paper that re-defined the terms of the debate, we were able to prove that abuses of the client’s product for influenza treatment are rare while costs of restricting the availability of the product to the public would be enormous. Consequently, We succeeded in building a powerful coalition of interest behind this statement (including the National Health Insurer, the Ministerial Anti-drug Commission, NGOs taking care of drug addicts, Ministry of Interior, etc.). In addition, we identified a local pharmaceutical company that would also suffer from the restriction, which enabled us to lead the campaign appealing to public’s patriotic interest.
We succeed in building a compromise that enabled the government to maintain its strong position on drug abuse while allowing the client to continue selling the product over the counter.