A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

Team 5 Investigates: Which Docs Are on the Lilly Pad?

Now it all comes out. Pharma giant Eli Lilly, required by a court settlement to get ahead of state (and likely to be federal) statutes requiring the disclosure of payments to prescribers, has put their payment database online (see it here). And here comes Channel 5, combing through the hundreds of payments, and skunking out the big Massachusetts names. And guess what -- right now it's the most read story on their site. BOSTON -- Pharmaceutical companies are paying doctors in Massachusetts and across the country stunning amounts of money, Team 5 Investigates reported Thursday. Read more »

Thanks, Pfizer: Funding available for Prescription Advantage and Academic Detailing

Next week, the legislature comes back to a packed agenda, which includes the budget and veto overrides. Spending allocations for a number of key accounts was vetoed, and other important priorities were given far less than required due to the dramatic revenue shortfall. Pfizer to the rescue! Pfizer (which merged with Wyeth in January) will pay $2.3 billion in the "largest health care fraud settlement in the history of the U.S. Justice Department." The settlement includes a guilty plea for the felony of ‘intent to defraud or mislead’ in addition to the billions paid. This is the latest in a... Read more »

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Free Meals

At last week's XXII Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (note the sponsor logos), held in Boston, 7,500 attendees from over 80 countries learned the latest in scientific findings on important medical issues like gene therapy of hemophilia or thromboprophylaxis as a key patient safety priority. The attendees also learned about how Massachusetts is in the forefront in preventing the conflicts of interest that interfere with scientific delivery of medical care: Read more »

Pharma Ad sparks controversy

We haven't talked much about how the pharmaceutical company markets through advertising to providers in academic journals.  But a new wide-spread ad highlights the issue with industry funding continuing medical education (CME).  This ad counters reports and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, Medpac and several other authoritative bodies to reduce and eventually eliminate the role of industry funded CME. Dr. Daniel Carlat writes on his blog: Current Psychiatry has been publishing a series of deceptive ads that appear to be patriotic calls for freedom of the press, but... Read more »

Happy New Year . . . Drug Marketing Managers

Today's the new state fiscal new year, and lots of state laws take effect today. As of July 1st, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries will have to follow Massachusetts’ gifts ban and disclosure law. The text of regulation and FAQs can be found here. Read more »

Foundation Podcasts Highlights Drug Marketing: "I couldn’t find medical experts who weren’t working for the drug industry"

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation is regularly posting podcasts on their new website, bluecrossfoundation.org. The latest features Melody Petersen, former NY Times medical journalist and author of Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs. Petersen talks about deceptive marketing practices, the need for greater federal oversight of drug companies, and offers advice for consumers when talking about prescription drugs with their doctors…just in time for the... Read more »

Prescriptions: Will Stodgy Beat Flashy?

As Richard Friedman, a professor at Cornell Medical School informs us in a recent New York Times article, pharmaceuticals have positioned many of their more expensive products as “new and sexy blockbuster drugs.” Doctor Friedman discusses an unfortunate trend in doctors and patients creating complex, expensive, and less effective treatment methods, while avoiding time-tested, reliable medications. Read more »

Eat Your Words, Pharma

These blog posts are so easy. All it takes is a little time to pass. Excerpt from full page pharma industry Globe ad, August 2008: "On the Governor's desk sits legislation that could well determine the future of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts. ... "The chilling effect that this will have on the life sciences industry in Massachusetts could not be more obvious. The impact on thousands of Massachusetts patients desperate for medical hope will be profound. Clinical trials being done today in Massachusetts will most certainly only be available elsewhere tomorrow. The hope for so... Read more »

Senate Approves Sales, Alcohol Tax Increases; Some Funds Targeted to Health

Tuesday evening, the Senate matched the House's approval of a 1.25-cent increase in the sales tax, and agreed to extend the sales tax to alcoholic beverages. We applaud the 29 Senators who voted for the sales tax increase, and congratulate Senators Walsh and Tolman who tirelessly pushed extending the sales tax to alcohol as part of an effort to adequately fund substance abuse programs. As part of the vote, the Senate leadership distributed a list of budget cut restorations that will paid for by the increased revenue. The restorations included a number of important health-related priorities of... Read more »

Move over Massachusetts: Vermont passes a stronger Pharma gift ban and disclosure law

When the Department of Public Health implemented the Massachusetts gifts ban and disclosure regulations, our law was considered the strictest in the nation. But a Vermont law passed at the end of thier legislative session bans all gifts except for samples, reimbursement for reasonable work, demonstration units, rebates, scholarships for medical students, genuine educational material such as journals. Read more »

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