A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

Marcia Angell: Call it Corruption

Former NEJM editor Marcia Angell lays out the whole range of pharma industry control over medicine in a review, Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption in the New York Review of Books. Angell's conclusions bear directly on the research loophole in the draft DPH drug payment disclosure regulations. Read more »

Drug Industry Payment Disclosure Certified as Cost-Saving

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan gold standard in evaluating the economic impact of policy change, has determined that requiring disclosure of drug industry payments to physicians will lead to lower health costs. Throughout our long night of July 31, waiting for the House and Senate to finalize the cost/quality bill that included the prescription reform provisions, a lobbyist for the drug industry kept needling me, "You don't actually believe that this will save costs?" I said yes back then, and now there's even more evidence. The CBO findings are part of a detailed... Read more »

Berkshire Eagle: "DPH should insist on full disclosure."

The Berkshire Eagle joined numerous other objective experts in calling for tougher DPH regulations on public disclosure of drug industry payments to doctors. The Blue Mass Group has been all over this issue, too (Lack of disclosure still doesn't add up). The Eagle rejects the industry arguments straight up: The regulations are necessary because patients have a right to know if drug companies are attempting to influence their doctors to prescribe drugs that may be more costly than those elsewhere on the market. .... Read more »

Globe to Admin: Take a Backbone Pill

Today's Globe editorial gets right to the point: "A promising new gift ban designed to stop drug companies from buying the good will of doctors has turned into a gift horse for the pharmaceutical industry." The Globe understands the stakes, writing "Patients have a right to know that doctors are prescribing a medication because it is the best choice for them, not because the maker of the drug is lavishing favors on their doctor." Unfortunately, the state Department of Public Health has come up with proposed regulations that omit the requirement that drug companies publicly disclose certain... Read more »

In Depth on Proposed Drug Regulations

As promised, here's some more analysis of the draft regulations to implement the pharmaceutical gift ban and payment disclosure requirement created under Chapter 305. We think these regulations are a good start by DPH, and we commend the Department for their efforts. However, we take issue with a number of the loopholes permitted by the proposal, and we want to correct some misperceptions that may have been left by some of the public statements. The Department explained in their press release, FAQs, memo and presentation, that these regulations would give Massachusetts the most comprehensive... Read more »

Round 2 of the Debate over the Pharmaceutical Gift Ban Begins

The most heavily anticipated topic on today’s Pubic Health Council (PHC) agenda was the presentation of regulations to implement the pharmaceutical gift ban and payment disclosure requirement created under Chapter 305. Read more »

Draft Pharma Conduct Regs

The Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition (MPRC) has gotten a copy of the draft regulations on the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Manufacturer Conduct (download a .pdf here) scheduled to be released by the Department of Public Health on Wednesday. We’re still reading through them and will have a full statement and blog on the draft Tuesday . Read our previous blog from December 7th on our website. Lynn Wickwire Development and Communications Director Read more »

Will DPH Cut Corners on Chapter 305's Pharmaceutical Gift Restrictions?

Yesterday's Boston Globe reports that the Department of Public Health will exempt pharmaceutical and medical device industry payments to health care providers for research and other consulting arrangements from public disclosure requirements mandated under the health care cost control legislation that became law this summer (Chapter 305 of the Acts of 2008). The story claims that the regulations will limit the disclosure requirements to amounts paid for marketing activities.  Senator Montigny called it "a significant gutting of the bill if they don't have to report research." We agree. If... Read more »

All Eyes Turn to DPH as It Gets Ready to Release Gift Ban Regulations

At next Wednesday’s Public Health Council meeting, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will unveil draft regulations creating a statewide marketing code of conduct regulating pharmaceutical and medical device marketing to physicians, including gift-giving, and implementing a requirement that companies disclose all payments they make to physicians. Both provisions, passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor this summer, are critical to lowering healthcare costs for consumers and the government and improving quality of care. Everyone pays for the billions of dollars spent... Read more »

Landmark Court Decision Upholds Prescription "Data Mining" Ban

Today the First Circuit Federal Court of Appeals upheld a New Hampshire law prohibiting the sale of consumer’s prescription data for use in marketing to physicians (known as “data mining”). The court recognized the importance of this law to curb the spiraling cost of prescription drugs. This policy was strongly supported by the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Reform Coalition. This decision clears the way for Massachusetts to pass a similar law. Read more »

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