Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Bill Would De-Stigmatize Vermont Docs and Allow Them to Partake of Pharma-Sponsored Free Ice Cream, Etc., at Medical Events

Bill Would De-Stigmatize Vermont Docs and Allow Them to Partake of Pharma-Sponsored Free Ice Cream, Etc., at Medical Events | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee has endorsed a bill designed to allow doctors who go to conferences to eat meals paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

 

The committee voted 5-0 in favor of S.45. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

 

S.45 updates an existing Vermont law that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose gifts they give to doctors and other health care providers.

 

The bill would drop the law’s provision that doctors who attend conferences and other large events be prohibited from consuming coffee, snacks, sit-down meals or buffets paid for by pharmaceutical companies.

 

However, doctors would still be prohibited from eating meals at events designed to promote specific drugs or devices, according to Sen. Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden, the lead sponsor of the bill.

 

Lyons said Vermont doctors who attend conferences right now are faced with a stigma because other practitioners can eat dinners and buffets.

 

“We had all these docs and other practitioners going to conferences, and there would be a big dinner, and it would be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company (that) may not be pushing a specific drug or device …,” Lyons said.

 

“There would be signs placed outside of the dinner room at the conference that say … ‘Vermont practitioners not welcome,’” she continued. “They couldn’t come in and have the food because it was considered a gift that would influence.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

It all started with ice cream. Read “No Schering-Plough Ice Cream for You, MA VT MN Doctors!

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Can Big Pharma Actually Buy a Doctor’s Allegiance for a $20 Meal?

Can Big Pharma Actually Buy a Doctor’s Allegiance for a $20 Meal? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

“Every man has his price,” as the saying goes, but one has to wonder whether it only takes a $20 sandwich and bowl of soup for the drug industry to buy off many in the medical profession.

 

Doctors in recent years have come under intense scrutiny for the dubious practices of promoting pricey new brand name drugs after accepting trips, consulting fees and gifts from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them.

 

[Read “More Free Pharma Lunches Served to Docs = More Prescriptions of the Sponsored Drug”; http://sco.lt/5LAeWX]

 

There was a time when drug companies seeking to increase their share of the lucrative prescription drug industry were tossing around real money. Drug makers at one time lavished gifts and gratuities on doctors recruited to study and promote their new drugs, and those gifts could range from free golf trips and vacations to tickets to hot sports events

 

However, as The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, the drug companies over time began to curtail the gifts and gratuities handed out. Many restrictions were imposed on drug company payments under a code of conduct adopted in 2002 by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry’s leading advocate.

 

The code allows companies to provide “modest meals” to doctors, which can range from free book and beverages brought to a doctor’s office to free meals at restaurants where doctors can listen to other doctors and sales representatives discuss new drugs coming on the market, according to the Journal.

 

[However, there have been many breaches of such codes and some codes don’t include meals. Read, for example, “U.S. Seeks Records of 80,000 Novartis `Sham' Events for Doctors”; http://sco.lt/5PtPkX and "’Free Lunch Flaw’ Loophole in Aussie Pharma-Doc Code of Conduct”; http://sco.lt/7KYoVd ]

 

In the greater scheme of things, meals of this sort are small potatoes. And one has to wonder how such trivial perks can be so effective in motivating a doctor when it comes to prescribing the best medicine for a patient – or whether it is simply a coincidence.

 

[You might like to read: “The Slippery Slope of Pharma Physician Phreebies”; http://sco.lt/5TS4tV which argues that such thinking is a "slippery slope" on which "Physicians fail to recognize their vulnerability to commercial influences due to self-serving bias, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance."]

 

As ProPublica’s senior health care reporter Charles Ornstein noted in an analysis of the latest study, “The researchers did not determine if there was a cause-and-effect relationship between payments and prescribing, a far more difficult proposition, but their study adds to a growing pile of research documenting a link between the two.”

 

And PhRMA complained to the Journal that the study essentially “cherry picked” physician-prescribing data “to advance a false narrative.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Read “More Free Pharma Lunches Served to Docs = More Prescriptions of the Sponsored Drug”; http://sco.lt/5LAeWX 

 

Note: There have been many breaches of such codes and some codes don’t include meals. Read, for example, “U.S. Seeks Records of 80,000 Novartis `Sham' Events for Doctors”; http://sco.lt/5PtPkX and "’Free Lunch Flaw’ Loophole in Aussie Pharma-Doc Code of Conduct”; http://sco.lt/7KYoVd 

 

You also might like to read: “The Slippery Slope of Pharma Physician Phreebies”; http://sco.lt/5TS4tV which argue that "Physicians fail to recognize their vulnerability to commercial influences due to self-serving bias, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance."

 

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Pharmacist to Pharma: 7 Reasons Why I Thank You for Free Lunch!

Pharmacist to Pharma: 7 Reasons Why I Thank You for Free Lunch! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

I stand up for the rights of pharmaceutical companies to buy lunches or host dinners that are educational in nature. Academics, reporters, and politicians who fear this practice is driving up the costs of health care need to calm down and think differently.

 

As a pharmacist, I’ve gotten to know many pharmaceutical representatives over a sandwich. We talk about health care, drugs, side effects, and how to help patients. Those conversations are valuable to me, and I don’t mind the sandwich. 


Here are 7 reasons to relax about the free pharma lunch:

1. Most health care providers work long hours and don’t have much availability in their day-to-day schedules. Many are on call nights, holidays, and weekends. In spite of this, they have to remain on the cutting edge of medical science, including knowledge about new drugs. Therefore, it’s simply efficient to combine learning opportunities with meals. 

2. A health care provider’s time is extremely valuable. Every provider is needed at virtually all times. It’s all hands on deck every day to care for patients and save or improve lives.  As such, every minute spent “working” is important and valuable. A relatively inexpensive meal in exchange for 15 to 20 minutes of time is a bargain. 

3. The fact that prescribing frequency increases after engaging in lunch-and-learn sessions doesn’t mean that physicians wrote prescriptions out of guilt because they were given a free tuna fish sandwich, as they could afford their own lunch quite easily. The prescribing frequency could just as easily be tied to the education.

4. Providing a meal is a socially acceptable means for showing kindness and respect. If I want to thank you for your time, I might bake you a cake or cook you a casserole. You came over and fixed my computer? You’re getting a pizza. Sales representatives are responsible for educating prescribers in their territory through face-to-face meetings. A meal represents a tangible token of appreciation for their time.

5. Patients benefit when health care providers develop relationships with pharmaceutical companies. Many of these companies offer educational resources to patients and financial assistance to the uninsured or underinsured. But, getting these benefits to patients typically requires building relationships with providers. As a pharmacist, I can say I’m very grateful for some of the outstanding sales representatives I’ve gotten to know, because the services their companies offer are useful to my patients. Sometimes, these relationships have been built over a burger. Is that a crime?

6. Yes, it’s possible for incentives to go too far, but we’re talking about $18 to $20 meals, not lavish trips to the Swiss Alps.

7. Health care providers aren’t computers or machines. Learning takes time, and reminders about how a drug fits into the current recommended treatment regimen is appreciated. A drug representative gets to be an expert on a particular molecule, but we have to know all the molecules. So, spending a few moments with an expert on 1 specific drug helps reinforce best practices and treatment standards. 


Pharma Guy's insight:

It seems some physicians value the sandwich more than the education. Read, for example, “When Big Pharma Paid for Lunch & Learn Sessions, Academic Physicians Showed Up on Time - Now, Not So Much!”; http://sco.lt/6jFdVB

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