Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New York Wants To Take My Drug Rep Sandwich

According to a recent issue WSJ blog, Governor David Paterson of New York wants to join Massachusetts and Vermont in limiting the ties between drug companies and doctors.

Paterson’s proposal is less restrictive than some. It would still allow drug reps to bring lunch to doctors’ offices, for example, though it would ban taking docs or their staff out to a restaurant. Gifts “such as floral arrangements, artwork, compact discs or tickets to a sporting event” would also be prohibited.

The proposal also regulates consulting relationships between doctors and drug companies, and more importantly, industry funding of continuing medical education.

Health-care professionals could be fined $5,000 to $10,000 for violations !

I am certainly against the influence wielded by big pharma and the medical device companies, but I don't think a drug rep bringing pens and lunch to a doctor's office is the root of the problem. Patterson's misdirected priorities, by the way, are also leading New York to consider tax sodas. Because they cause obesity. Right.

Has anybody considered the $38 million spent by the insurance lobby to influence lawmakers as part of the problem ? Or an equal amount of time and money spent by big pharma to buy face time with lawmakers on Capitol Hill ? These are the real problem when it comes to industry influence. Always has been.

To be sure, I think that doctors who are on the payroll of the companies (usually to the tune of $100,000/year) for their cheerleading tours to promote drugs need to decide whose team they are on. Those arrangements need to be targeted for reform.

So before they vote to ban my staff from getting a few notepads and Subway sandwiches, maybe lawmakers should look at where the real problem lies. Psssst...it's not in my turkey and swiss...it's that lobbyist waiting outside your door.

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