Massachusetts senate bans pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors
BOSTON The state senate of Massachusetts voted unanimously to ban all gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical companies, becoming the first state ever to ban the practice
According to published reports, the ban on gifts is just another part of major reforms being conducted to control the increase of health care-costs. Lobbyists for the healthcare industry have argued that restricting educational materials to be given to doctors could hurt patient care. The bill passed through the Senate 36-0, even though the medical community and pharmaceutical companies strongly opposed the bill.
The bill forces pharmaceutical companies to obtain state licenses for sales agents and, according to published reports, all agents who violate the law will be fined 5,000. According to State Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) the principal author of the gift ban, felt that it was an important step to improve the healthcare industry.“This will prevent the illicit marketing that is compromising the doctor-patient relationship,” Montigny said. “Billions is being spent on schmoozing and sending doctors on junkets, and it shouldn’t be happening.”
Such states as Vermont and Minnesota have similar bans that have a monetary limit on gift giving, but the complete ban in Massachusetts is the first in America to be implemented. The bill still needs approval from the House of Representatives and Governor Deval Patrick.
Proximity, price outweigh technology in consumers’ choice of pharmacies
DURHAM, N.C. Fully one in three Americans who take prescription medicines have experienced a prescription error or say they know someone who has, a new consumer survey finds.
The just-released Parata Prescription Safety 2008 poll appears to bolster the case for pharmacy technology vendors, who assert that robotic dispensing technology and other pharmacy technology can greatly reduce medication errors.
More than half of American adults take at least one prescription daily, according to the Parata survey and other reseaerch. However, researchers argue in a report on the results released Thursday, “increased prescription use has not been accompanied by increased consumer vigilance.”
Instead, consumers “readily admit to choosing their pharmacies for speed and convenience, rather than for safe prescription practices” the company reported. Half of those polled cited “proximity to work or home” as the top reason for choosing one pharmacy over another.
The second most cited reason for choosing a particular pharmacy is price, cited by 23 percent of respondents, Parata reported. “Interestingly, a pharmacy’s use of “automated dispensing equipment,” a proven strategy for reducing prescription errors, ranked last in importance, cited by just 2 percent of respondents,” pollsters noted.
The vast majority of prescription-takers [80 percent] spend less than two minutes speaking to their pharmacists when they pick up their medications, according to Parata, and almost half [45 percent] don’t talk to them at all. And while 91 percent of consumers asked could name the doctors who wrote their last prescriptions, only 36 percent could name the pharmacists who filled them, the survey found.
Nevertheless, far more respondents ranked pharmacists as principally responsible for ensuring their prescriptions are accurate than those who said their doctors mostly filled that role, by a margin of 49 percent to 15 percent for doctors.
Feds’ new view of multisource drugs draws opposition from NACDS, NCPA
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association today asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to withdraw a new and potentially damaging definition of “multiple source drug,” a definition both pharmacy groups say could scramble the prescription payment system for Medicaid and cut further into reimbursements to pharmacies.
The revised definition comes in the form of an interim final rule adopted by CMS. In comments submitted to CMS today, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson and NCPA executive vice president Bruce Roberts called attention to two critical legal concerns with the new way the Bush administration is defining multisourced medications.
“The first concern is that the rule was not subject to the normal notice and comment rulemaking process in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires public notice and a comment period prior to most rule changes,” the two leaders noted.
The second sticking point is more serious. Anderson and Roberts said the definition of multiple source drugs “is critical for pharmacies because CMS uses Federal Upper Limits (FULs) to cap Medicaid reimbursement to pharmacies that dispense them.”
That said, they told CMS, “the Social Security Act provides that a drug is not a multiple source drug unless two or more equivalent drug products are ‘sold or marketed in the State;’ that is, whether particular drug products are generally available to the public through retail pharmacies in each state. CMS did not comply with this standard in revising the rule.
“While we appreciate CMS’ efforts to redefine ‘multiple source drug’, it is critical that the revisions meet all guidelines and compliance requirements,” said Anderson and Roberts. “Pharmacies are at risk of improper and inadequate Medicaid reimbursements due to the AMP [average manufacturer’s price] rule [for multi-sourced drugs] and the revised definition. As a result, those who will suffer the greatest burden will be the patients and the states.”