Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Legislation Encourages "Transparency" from Pharmaceuticals...or Does it?

--trends + business + politics--

Some seemingly good news for consumers. New legislation requiring prescription drug makers to disclose payment to doctors got a big boost yesterday when Ely Lilly and Co. backed the legislation after the disclosure limit was raised from $25 to $500. Last year, the company was also the first drug maker to publicly report all of its educational grants and charitable contributions. The recent move by Lilly was seen as a big step as it broke rank with the rest of the industry.

The new legislation also included drug and medical device makers, whereas the original proposal was to only include companies with more that $100 million in annual revenue. The bill was sponsored by Sen.Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and top Democratic co-sponsor Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, and came as a response to growing concerns over the impact of pharma reps picking up tabs for dinners or travel expenses (part of the $25 Billion Pharma Marketing annual push) on doctors prescribing certain medications. Although the legislation does not ban the payments it does require drug makers to disclose them. The new policy would not take effect until March 31, 2011.

Although this is all very inspiring news on the surface - one has to wonder what the accountability is of the doctors to disclose such data to patients. Will patients be given some sort of form that discloses their doctors relationships with specific pharmaceuticals upon being prescribed a medication ? Will a prescription for Zoloft now come with a form stating how many dinners the doctor took with the pharma rep representing its makers? And where is the American Medical Association on this issue - how is it encouraging unbiased practices amongst its members ? Although the news is positive on the surface it leaves many questions still unanswered.

(Source: Associated Press)

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