Conn Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today urged legislation requiring strict limitations and strong disclosure of pharmaceutical drug company gifts to doctors that may improperly influence health care decisions. (Press release which CtWatchdog totally agrees with)
Blumenthal — who has handled several major investigations and settlements involving drug company influence over doctors — testified on the legislation today with Connecticut Center for Patient Safety Executive Director Jean Rexford and others familiar with drug company sales policies.
Pharmaceutical drug companies spend billions of dollars — some estimates include $23 billion annually of which $7 billion is spend on â€ždirect-to-physiciansâ€Ÿ marketing — to market prescription drugs.
â€œThis proposal recognizes that health care providers and pharmaceutical companies should interact and exchange ideas and experiences — but in the sunshine of transparency and disclosure,â€ Blumenthal said. â€œAddicted to profits, pharmaceutical drug companies focus relentlessly on practitioners, seeking enhanced sales and profits.
â€œWhile certain pharmaceutical drug companies may be taking steps toward self-reform, we cannot rely solely on such efforts to break an industry attraction — some might say addiction — to such practices. A state law readily enforceable by our state agencies would protect the physician-patient relationship from drug company influence.
Rexford said, â€œThis bill provides simple solutions that will help the health care consumer. Transparency and accountability are key components of this legislation.â€
Specifically, the legislation would include:
ï‚· requirements that pharmaceutical and medical device companies adopt a code of conduct — and training and monitoring to ensure compliance with the code;
Contact: Tara Downes or Christopher Hoffman 860-808-5324
ï‚· Annually report all authorized payments or other economic benefits provided to health care providers that are individually in excess of $50; and
ï‚· Prohibitions against direct payments or other compensation by pharmaceutical companies to health care providers, unless in exchange for a bona fide service.
The legislation prohibits most of the egregious gifts and forms of compensation while allowing drug and medical device representatives to provide: (a) reasonable compensation to health care providers for services; (b) peer-reviewed academic, scientific and clinical journals; (c) medical device demonstration and evaluation units; (d) rebates or discounts; and (e) modest food and beverage when associated with an office visit regarding the provision of product information.
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