A Healthy Blog

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

Prescription Drug Reform

April DOR "Blue Book" Shows Restaurant Industry Cooks the Numbers - Again

Today the Department of Revenue released their April "Blue Book" - the monthly revenue figures for each of the state tax sources. We eagerly looked at the meals tax numbers. And once again, the numbers disproved the completely false claims that the Massachusetts restaurant industry is somehow being hurt by the state's restrictions on drug company marketing. The meals tax receipts show April 2011 restaurant sales beat the April 2010 figure, by over 3%. So now we know that the first four months of 2011 exceeded the same period in 2010, by over 3.2%. So far, 2011 is shaping up to be the best... Read more »

Globe Editorial, Letter Refute Pharma Claims

In a strong, cogent editorial last week, the Boston Globe emphasized the value of protecting our state's restrictions on gifts from the drug and device industry to doctors: A THREE-year-old state law forbidding gifts from drug companies to doctors seems to be cutting into business at high-end local restaurants. If the Legislature repeals the law, and brings back those now-banned dinners where drug reps touted their products over lobster and chardonnay, the prescription-buying public will end up eating the cost in more ways than one. Read more »

Did the House of Representatives Think They Could Quietly Vote to Repeal the Gift Ban?

Did members of the House of Representatives think no one would notice when they vote to repeal a popular law? The reaction to the House vote to repeal the 2008 law banning most gifts to prescribers from drug and device makers has been fast and furious, and must be causing a lot of after-the-fact discomfort among many members. Read more »

House Budget: Good News/Bad News/Good News

Some items from day 2 of the House budget debate and votes on amendments: Read more »

Years of drug industry lies warrant patient skepticism, not trust

The drug industry’s poor track record toward patient concerns belies the rosy picture painted by last Monday’s Boston Globe report on last week’s MassBIO conference. The conference talked about "participatory medicine," empowering patients to participate with drug companies. Yet this approach will need to earn the trust of patient groups. Far from educating patients about risk or empowering them to direct research, the drug industry has withheld information about drug risks from the FDA, doctors and patients; minimized these risks in advertising; and overwhelmingly prioritized lucrative ‘me-... Read more »

HCFA Rolls Out 2011-12 Legislative Agenda

Last week Massachusetts Representatives and Senators introduced over a dozen bills supported by HCFA and the various coalitions we lead. These bills would improve access to and the quality of care for everyone in Massachusetts, particularly those with the most needs. We will summarize the bills over the next few days. The ACT!! Coalition, which supports health reform implementation, is working on three bills: Read more »

Times Ponders Drug Coupon Issue

If given a choice between a name-brand drug and its generic equivalent, which drug would you prefer to take? If you spent more than two seconds contemplating the answer to this question, then drug companies know you better than you know yourself. Price is the only reason patients choose the drab generics over the name-brands they’ve seen in ubiquitous advertisements. Co-pays for name-brands are often much higher than for generics, forcing patients to go with the generics. To even out the prices, drug companies offer coupons that cover most of a name-brand drug’s co-pay. Read more »

Just Say Know to Drug Companies

Both the state and the federal government have passed laws requiring disclosure of drug and device payments made to doctors. The state’s law went into effect in 2009 and the federal law will take effect in 2013. Disclosure laws help reveal the extent of relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies provide physicians with gifts in the form of money, tickets, dinners, and a long list of other perks in exchange for speaking on behalf of a pharmaceutical company, promoting a drug or device to other doctors, or for simply listening to a representative’s sales... Read more »

The Real Cost of Drug Company Payments to Physicians

The Boston Globe definitely got it right this morning in its editorial explaining how pharmaceutical company payments to “dodgy doctors” hurt the drug companies’ credibility: It’s ethically dubious whenever a drug company pays doctors to tout its products, for the practice drives up costs and leaves patients wondering how the money influences what doctors prescribe. But when the doctors making sales pitches have major blemishes on their record, it further discredits a practice that Harvard Medical School and the Partners HealthCare hospitals, among others, are wisely banning. Read more »


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