A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Big Pharma is at it again!

Big Pharma is at it again!

April 14, 2012

<cross-posted from Blue Mass Group>

Well, Big Pharma is at it again. This time, Pharma companies are wiggling their way into the legislature’s House budget. Watch this:

SECTION 46. Section 2 of chapter 111N of the General Laws is hereby repealed.

What the what does that mean? What sort of legal mumbo-jumbo voodoo magic is that?

Well, with just that one sentence, buried deep in the budget, the MA House of Representatives would eliminate the ban on Pharma companies giving gifts to doctors and other prescribers to promote their drugs. The gift ban is needed because we don’t want doctors to be influenced by sales reps who push their newest, most expensive drugs. When they do, it costs all of us more!

You might remember that, way back in May of last year, I shared with y’all a little blog about how the Pharma industry teamed up with the Restaurant industry to repeal the ban on gifts to doctors. What they wanted then — and what they want now — is to repeal the ban on gifts to health care providers. That’s absurd. Why would we want drug companies to spend millions of dollars on fancy physician meals and other perks instead of on bench science and discovering the cures and new drugs we need? Why should industry profits come before patients’ health and their pocketbooks?

We believe that most doctors use their expertise and training in making medical decisions and want the best for their patients. And we know that these industry advertising tactics are effective – peer reviewed literature shows that gifts and meals influence prescribing habits. That’s why the industry wants them. Our gift ban protects our doctor-patient relationships and eliminates doubt about where our doctor’s allegiances lie. There should be no question that what your doctor prescribes is based on evidence-based medicine, not unscrupulous sales practices.

So here’s the thing. We need you to take action — today. Here’s what you can do – step by step.

  1. Find your Representative’s number at wheredoivotema.com (listed as Rep in General Court).
  2. Call your Representative and say the following:
    “Don’t sneak in that line that repeals the gift ban into the budget! Co-sponsor Rep. Lewis’ amendment (amendment 406) so that pharmaceutical companies can’t wine and dine doctors, influencing my care!”
  3. Call me! Tell me what you heard! 617-275-2913 or email me at afertig@hcfama.org
  4. Woolah! You just completed the first step in the budget season.

This is the first time in the budget process that we’ll need your help. But it’s not going to be the last. Big Pharma will do whatever it takes to repeal the gift ban. We need you on our side.

Thank you!
-Ari Fertig