Massachusetts Senate Bill 402 (link to the General Court's page here), as well as provisions in a Senate budget bill provide for licensing, and regulating activities of, drug company representatives. State Senator Mark Montigny points out that hair dressers are more tightly regulated than drug company reps, and considers how much impact those reps have come to have on our health care today... The Boston Globe (link in title above) reports that the bill regulates many aspects of the pharmaceutical representative's activities. Massachusetts would be
the first state in the nation to license drug company sales representatives and would prohibit them from providing entertainment, gifts, payments, or travel to doctors, healthcare facilities, or public officials. (snip)
The Senate measure would require pharmaceutical representatives to complete training before receiving their licenses and to participate in continuing education. (snip)
In a statement, PhRMA senior vice president Ken Johnson said Montigny's proposal ``would impose an additional burden on the sharing of new information with physicians."
``The amendment also seeks to impose criminal penalties on what should be viewed as the important sharing of information between pharmaceutical companies and physicians regarding the risks and benefits of medicine," he said.
But Dr. Joseph Gerstein , a whistle-blower in the federal government's case against TAP Pharmaceutical Products for improper marketing practices, said the sales representatives are not engaged in educational efforts.
``If pharmaceutical companies were really interested in education, as opposed to sales, then pharmaceutical salespeople would be rewarded according to how accurately and effectively they conveyed the crucial information about indications, side effects, and toxicity to physicians," Gerstein said. ``They are not. They are rewarded on how much they increase sales. That says it all."
A government investigation based in part on Gerstein's allegations led Abbott Laboratories and Takeda Chemical Industries to pay $875 million to settle civil and criminal charges. (snip)
If the measure becomes law, licensing fees would be split between the attorney general's office, where they would be used to prosecute Medicaid fraud, and the Board of Registration in Pharmacy, where the money would be used to reduce medical errors.
Montigny [the sponsor] said he has separately introduced the proposal as a bill in the Senate, should the measure fail during the budget talks.
``I'm not going away on this issue," he said. ``We need to ban all manipulation of drug-prescribing practices."