A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

The Legislature Being the Legislature

The legislature wrapped up their formal sessions last night (early this morning, actually). Two key HCFA priorities – health reform funding and the health care cost control bill -- passed and are waiting the Governor’s signature. Two other priorities – an oral health and children’s mental health bill – were not approved. These bills continue to have broad support, and we expect their passage during the informal sessions over the next few weeks. There was lots of activity and some drama yesterday. Here's our report: Read more »

"P.R. Ploy": PhRMA Recognizes the Need to Curb Gift-Giving

PhRMA, the trade association for drug companies announced yesterday that it has strengthened its voluntary guidelines on interactions with health professionals, which includes standards on gifts and other payments. The new code was rushed out in advance of the Massachusetts House consideration of a ban on all gifts, expected next week. This action shows that the industry itself recognizes the excessive nature of, and inappropriate influence of, gifts to health care professionals. However, the new PhRMA guidelines are an insufficient fix to the conflicts of interest created by gifts, and... Read more »

All Eyes on the House: Will The Fox Be Guarding the Hen House?

As everyone waits for the House to take action on the cost control bill, a WBUR story yesterday brought good news and bad news. The good news is that the House will likely take action on the bill shortly; the bad news is that the pharma gift ban may be absent from the bill that comes out of the House. Will the House cave to industry pressure and leave out this critical provision put forth by the Senate President? We sure hope not. Read more »

Prominent Doctors, Med Student Groups Support Gift Ban

The pharmaceutical gift ban is garnering more support from health care providers across the state. Four prominent Massachusetts physicians wrote to Governor Patrick, Speaker DiMasi and Senate President Murray in support of legislation that would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from giving gifts to health care providers, as did the National Physician’s Alliance and the Boston University and Tufts University chapters of the American Medical Student Association, which together represent 970 practicing and future Massachusetts physicians. (you can read the letters here) Read more »

Survey: Public Opposes Drug Company Gifts

The proposed ban on gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical companies in the Senate health care cost and quality bill (S. 2660) has been grabbing headlines and op-ed space since it was first introduced in March, and now a new survey (download pdf) has found that the majority of Americans disapprove of many of the gifts that pharmaceutical companies give to doctors. The survey, conducted earlier this month, polled more than 1000 people across the country about pharmaceutical company relations with doctors. Here are some results that pertain to the pharmaceutical section of the Massachusetts bill... Read more »

"It's illegal for a music company to pay a radio dj to put songs on the radio, but when it comes to medicines that mean life and death, a doctor can take hundreds of thousands a year"

Last Thursday's NPR radio show On Point covered the scandal of drug marketing. The main guest was journalist Melody Petersen, who has just written a book, "Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs." The book was reviewed in the Globe last week (here), which said "Petersen's well-honed reporting skills enable her to build an extraordinarily persuasive argument, methodically laying out case after case of greed, graft, and misconduct chilling in their details." The Times review (here)... Read more »

AMSA Rates Academic Medical Centers on Policies related to Pharmaceutical Gifts and other Industry Relationships

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has released their second annual "PharmFree Scorecard" evaluating Academic Medical Centers' policies to prevent financial conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry. With the help of the Prescription Project, AMSA evaluated the conflict of interest policies at the 150 U.S. medical schools, looking specifically at the existence and strength of plicies regarding: Read more »

HCFA's Fifth Policy & Organizing Conference This Friday!

HCFA's 5th Annual Policy and Organizing Conference will be held this Friday! The day will be packed with informative and interesting events, including a keynote address from A&F Secretary (and Connector Board Chair) Leslie Kirwan on cost control, a Community Organizer panel who will address the intersections of policy and organizing, and a ton of workshops on today’s most important healthcare issues. Check out the day’s agenda and a list of conference workshops. Online registration is closed, but you can still register on-site. Read more »

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