A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

Public Hearing on Prescription Drug Shortages

On Monday, February 13, the Joint Committee on Public Health will conduct an oversight hearing to investigate the impact of drug shortages on patient care in Massachusetts. The hearing will take place from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the State House in Boston, Hearing Room A-2. Read more »

A Holiday Gift for Pharma?

As the halls of the Massachusetts State House are emptying out for the holidays, the pharmaceutical industry is working hard to push through special interest legislation when they think no one is paying attention.  On Tuesday of this week, the Joint Committee on Public Health gave a favorable recommendation to H. Read more »

Rx Fraud Case Reaps Big Rewards for Massachusetts

(Guest post by Wells Wilkinson, Director, Prescription Access Litigation, and Marcia Hams, Director of Prescription Access and Quality, Community Catalyst. Follow their work to make prescription drug prices more affordable on the Postscript Blog.) Yesterday, the Massachusetts Attorney-General’s office announced a $24 million dollar settlement resulting from an investigation of pricing fraud in state programs by fourteen different drug makers. This settlement follows a ground-breaking national settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Prescription Access Litigation project at Community Catalyst in... Read more »

One Of These States Is Not Like The Other

What's right with this chart? It comes a new report (press release; full report (pdf)) that quantifies what Health Care For All has been saying all along - drug coupons actually don’t lower costs for consumers but drive up prices and encourage patients to take more expensive, newer drugs. Read more »

Drug coupons – a pharma company’s best friend

Earlier this week, Health Care For All testified before the Joint Committee on Financial Services in opposition to a bill that would allow the pharmaceutical industry to market “coupons” for brand name drugs.  This bill is one among many before the Massachusetts legislature that would open up a whole new marketing ploy for the pharma and medical device industry. As consumer advocates, we at HCFA see drug coupons as nothing more than a tactic to entice consumers into purchasing more expensive brand-name drugs, when cheaper and equally-effective generics are available. Read more »

Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban is Working

In 2008, Massachusetts enacted its a pharmaceutical and medical device gift ban and disclosure law, which limited industry representatives from wining-and-dining physicians in order to encourage the prescribing of their high-cost, brand-name products. The law also established annual reporting requirements for these industries to disclose details about permitted payments made to physicians and other prescibers. Read more »

False Prophet

Assignment: compare and contrast. Earlier this year, Massachusetts officials passed what was dubbed the “gift ban," regulations that limit the contributions, gratuities, and meals pharmaceutical and medical device firms can give to doctors. At the time, Robert Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, warned that the new rules, which were considered to be the most stringent in the nation, would make event organizers think twice before coming back to Boston. “Massachusetts is now seen as the most unfriendly state in the nation toward industry," Coughlin said in March. “In... Read more »

“MA residents should not be expected to pay for the free lunches of providers when they can barely afford their own health care”

Today the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses heard testimony on multiple bills, including S. 1849 - archly titled, "An Act Relative to Restaurant Rejuvenation." The bill would add a restaurant loophole to the state's Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ban law. House chair Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Senate Chair Sen. Sal N. DiDomenico, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Rep. Paul McMurty, Rep. Angelo L. D’Emilia, Rep. Kate Hogan, Sen. Katherine Clark, and Rep. James Lyons, Jr. were in attendance. Three panels presented testimony on the proposed bill – one in support of the bill and... Read more »

Put Patients First - Protect the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban. Check out www.hcfama.org/giftban

Three years ago, the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Gift Ban was enacted to protect consumers and reduce health care costs by limiting the marketing practices of pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Each year, approximately $30 billion dollars on these marketing practices are spent nationwide. Where does this money come from? Right out of consumer’s wallets, in the form of increased drug prices, leading to higher copays, deductibles, and premiums for coverage. Read more »

Why Drug Coupons Are A Bad Deal For Massachusetts - Audio Version

Click to hear story This weeks Senate budget debate will include two amendments to allow pharma industry marketing of "coupons" for brand name drugs - amendments 503 by Senator Michael Moore, and 446, sponsored by Senator Tarr and three other Republicans. A similar provision already passed in the House, where it was buried in a consolidated amendment with numerous other provisions. Read more »


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