Thursday, February 24, 2005

Jack Franks great bill on big pharma's bribes to docs

HB 656 is in committee now. OK maybe bribes is a bit strong, but when drug companies give money or give-aways to doctors, the financial interest of the pharma companies conflict with the health interests of the patient who might get pushed into more expensive drugs. 4 states now require pharma companies to disclose to the state how much they spend on direct marketing. Jack's bill would add Illinois to the list. Ed Sullivan voted no and went to another committee. The Chamber is arguing that the industry standards where they argue that they have cleaned up the excesses of their industry. Jack's point in debate is that the for-profit drug companies market their products to physicians, not the end users, so that this is a special circumstance that justifies regulation. Plus the fastest growing part of the state budget is the cost of prescription drugs. Paul Froehlich asks the Chamber that the accountability of self-regulation is basically internal without any outside check. The Chamber agrees but thinks that is OK. Paul argues that means you never find out how compliant the pharma companies are. Makes sense to me. So how will the reporting change their behavior? Maybe because people will know how they send their drug reps into doctors offices. That's it. Not too compelling. Rosemary Mulligan seems hostile or at least indifferent. Jack responds with a 'brilliant' article from the New England Journal of Medicine that writes about the kickbacks in the 22 billion direct marketing to doctors. That's more money than they spend on R and D. Kosel votes no and leaves. Back in a minute.

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