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Governor Baker Vetoes "Academic Detailing" Funds in Budget; We Call on Legislature to Override Veto

Governor Baker Vetoes "Academic Detailing" Funds in Budget; We Call on Legislature to Override Veto

July 20, 2015

On Friday afternoon, Governor Baker issued his line-tem vetoes for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which started on July 1.

One of the vetoes took us by surprise:

Governor Baker vetoes all Academic Detailing funds

"Academic Detailing" is the somewhat obscure name for a valuable, money-saving state program. Here's how we've explained it before

Academic detailing helps doctors stay abreast of current information while avoiding the biases of pharmaceutical-sponsored education. How does it work? Doctors, nurses, or pharmacists are trained to understand comprehensive and unbiased clinical data. They then visit physicians’ practices to pass this information on to practitioners. Academic detailers do not have a financial stake in the drugs that they are recommending, and thus serve as a counterweight to industry-sponsored information. Academic detailing has the potential to achieve two goals, both of which are good for Massachusetts:

  1. Promoting better patient outcomes. Academic detailers will present a more complete view of the available clinical data. This stands in sharp contrast to the selective marketing techniques used by pharmaceutical representatives, who focus on highlighting a drug’s strengths while glossing over its weaknesses.
  2. Reducing healthcare costs. Academic detailers recommend off-patent drugs when evidence shows that they are a safer and more effective treatment option. Pharma has no incentive to market off-patent drugs because, for them, that’s not where the money is. One study from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that each dollar spent on academic detailing saved two dollars in prescription drug costs. This means substantial savings on prescription drug expenditures statewide— potentially big enough for Massachusetts to recover most or all of what it spends to fund an academic detailing program.

Much more details on the program, and how it works, is here.

We call on the legislature to swiftly override this veto, which would deprive doctors of objective information on prescription drugs, and only benefits high-priced drug manufacturers who are able to market better than the competition. Join us in contacting your state legislator and asking him or her to support an override of this veto.

                 -- Brian Rosman