A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

Watch, and then Call: "There's Nothing More Hurtful And Regressive Than A Budget Cut"

First, please watch the video below, highlights from today's inspirational, packed "Stop The Cuts" rally at the State House. The speakers include Harris Gruman of SEIU and the Stop the Cuts Coalition; Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg; John Bennett of Mass Senior Action; and Lynn Norris of Neighbor to Neighbor. Next, call your State Senator (not sure who that is? look it up here) and urge him or her to support expanded revenues and HCFA's key budget amendments to restore critical health care programs. The Senate will be starting its budget debate on Tuesday. Among the Senate budget amendments... Read more »

Academic Detailing Explained

Yesterday, Senator Richard Moore and Representative Harriett Stanley hosted a briefing on the Massachusetts Academic Detailing program. The House restored funding for this program on the floor, and Senator Montigny will be filing an amendment to restore funds in the Senate budget. Dr. Jerry Avorn presented an overview of the program emphasizing that this program teaches doctors about the safety, cost and efficacy of drugs and other treatments for specific conditions. Senator Moore then discussed how academic detailing is part of the next steps in achieving higher quality, lower cost health... Read more »

Legislative Briefing Thursday on the Massachusetts Academic Detailing Program

Thursday, May 14th at 11am in Room 222 there will be a legislative briefing on the Massachusetts Academic Detailing Program. Co-hosted by Health Care Financing co-chairs Senator Richard Moore and Representative Harriett Stanley, this briefing will include a role play and demonstration of the program. Academic detailing allows providers to make decisions about prescription drugs based on balanced data rather than biased promotional information. The program gives doctors comparative data about the safety and efficacy of all the prescription drugs they give their patients. Read more »

Legislature Hears Pharma bills

On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing heard testimony on several prescription drug-related bills. First up was discussion of four bills filed that would remove prescription drug coverage from the Minimum Creditable Coverage (MCC) standards for health insurance in Massachusetts. The first to testify in opposition to these bills was Celia Wcislo on behalf of several members of the Connector Board Authority. The ACT!! Coalition presented a panel in opposition to these bills. Nancy Doucette, a cancer survivor, started off the panel and discussed the crucial role prescription... Read more »

Health Care Financing Committee to Hear Health Reform and Pharma Bills Tomorrow

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will hold a public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6th at 1:00pm in Hearing Room A-1 of State House. Pharmaceutical, public health and elder and long term care bills will be heard. The ACT!! Coalition and the Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition will be weighing in on several bills to voice our strong support or opposition. Read more »

House Budget - Amendments Strengthen Health Programs

The House started the week with a budget with appropriations at $27.44 billion, with $19.53 billion from taxes. On Monday, the House voted to increase the sales tax from 5% to 6.25%, bringing in an additional $900 million. They voted to allocate $205 million of those additional funds towards local aid. The left over amount has been used throughout the week for consolidated line item amendments. HCFA’s coalitions continued to advocate for vital state funded programs. The week had both good and bad news. On Tuesday, the House recognized the importance of children’s mental health by... Read more »

2-0: States v. Industry on Pharmaceutical Data Mining

The federal court (<a href="http://www.prescriptionproject.org/tools/solutions_resources/files/0040.pdf) upheld Vermont’s Pharmaceutical Data Mining Law as constitutional. According to the Vermont Attorney General: The court found that the Vermont law reasonably regulates the information that data mining companies obtain from individual Vermonters' prescription information. This data is then compiled and sold to pharmaceutical companies so that their salespeople can target individual physicians for the marketing and sale of new prescription drugs. The new law would allow physicians to... Read more »

Welcome to the Prescription Reform Club

In a move to combat the pervasive influence drug companies have on doctors, Partners HealthCare System announced today plans to implement new industry interaction policies. This announcement comes on the heels of similar announcements made on Wednesday by Johns Hopkins and by Stanford University last week. Read more »

What a great IDEA!

It looks like D.C. is following in Massachusetts footsteps. Members of the US Senate and the House just introduced the Independent Drug Education and Outreach Act of 2009 (IDEA for short). According to The Prescription Project: “This law would provide grants to create unbiased educational materials for doctors and grants to train pharmacists and nurses to make educational office visits to doctors with that information, combating the biased commercial information brought by drug reps.” Read more »

Take Two Pills (UPDATE: now with video!)

Two Pharma-related items to report: 1. Data Mining Hearing at the State House Yesterday the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a hearing on several bills related to data mining (S. 17, S. 19, H. 109, and H. 110). These bills prevent pharmaceutical companies from buying doctors’ prescribing records from pharmacies and using that information to target their marketing to physicians. Here's our video describing the process:[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"247","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"344","width":"425","style":""}}]]... Read more »

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