A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

Legislative Hearing on Prescription Drug Data mining

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will host a legislative hearing on Thursday, March 26th at 1:00 pm in Room B-1. As we discussed here, these bills will prevent the use of prescription data for marketing purposes. Pharmaceutical companies use data they bought from Health Information Organizations to directly target a physician to switch from drug A to drug B. This practice increases costs to the health care system, and can endanger patient safety. The Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition will be providing testimony in support of S. 17, S. 19, H. 109, and H. 110. Follow us as... Read more »

Public Health Council's Rx Regs Discussion

Last Wednesday, the Department of Public Health held its monthly Public Health Council meeting. Commissioner Auerbach emphasized how critical the issues of cost containment and quality are in light of health reform. The top news of the day was the final vote for promulgation of the proposed regulations regarding the state’s code of conduct and disclosure requirements for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. In the end, the Council voted (of those who could vote) unanimously in favor of promulgation of the final version of the regulations with an amendment to review the regulations... Read more »

DPH Adopts Drug/Device Regulations

We are reminded of the song by Etta James- “At Last.” After a year-long legislative and regulatory battle, the pharmaceutical and medical device industries in Massachusetts are now required to tell consumers what they are doing. And we are glad- consumers in Massachusetts deserve to know where the money goes and how it affects them. Read more »

Tomorrow’s Data Mining Bill Hearing is Cancelled

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing has postponed tomorrow’s hearing that was originally scheduled for 1pm. The hearing has been rescheduled for March 26th at 1pm in Room B-1. Read more »

MPRC Day- Part Deux: Legislative Hearing on data-mining bill

The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing will host a legislative hearing at noon on Wednesday, March 11th in Room B-1. As we discussed here, this bill will prevent the use of health data for marketing purposes. Pharmaceutical companies use data they bought from Health Information Organizations (HIO's) to directly target a physician to switch from drug A to drug B. This practice increases costs to the health care system, and can endanger patient safety. The Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition will be providing testimony in support of SB 17, SB 19, HB 109, and HB110. Follow us as we... Read more »

Final Vote on gift ban and disclosure regulations: March 11th at 9am

The Public Health Council will vote on the final gift ban and disclosure regulations as drafted by the Department of Public Health. As we have discussed numerous times on this blog (here, here, and here), these regulations are intended to regulate the marketing conduct of the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. These industries spend billions of dollars annually in marketing to promote their products. Much of the money is spent directly on prescribers with the intent of encouraging providers to prescribe certain drugs or devices. While some of this money is used for legitimate... Read more »

"The horse has left the barn, and both industry and physicians have to get on board"

The mixed metaphor in the quote above is from DC attorney Kathleen McDermott, a vociferous defender of pharma and medical device companies when they are accused of misdeeds. McDermott's observation came in the context of another avalanche of news spelling out the critical need for strong regulation and disclosure of industry payments to doctors. The Globe yesterday trotted out the same tired self-serving arguments from some medical device industry execs, claiming that if companies have to say who they’re paying and what, researchers will stop...well, researching here. Despite the $1 billion... Read more »

Shocking! (a pharmaceutical company is accused of fraud and kickbacks, again)

Not that we are surprised, but on Wednesday of this week, the Justice Department charged the drug maker Forest Laboratories with “defrauding the government of millions of dollars by illegally marketing the popular antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for unapproved uses in children and teenagers.” Check out the NY Times article for details. Read more »

The drumbeat for Rx and medical device reform gets stronger

Case 1: Mass. Regulates disclosure of industry Read more »

Pfizer Devastates Massachusetts Convention Industry

The Massachusetts hotel and convention industry must already be in mourning. As the Massachusetts economy is about to go into a deep tailspin, hotels, restaurants and caterers must be furious at their former ally, Pfizer: Read more »

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