"Reining in the Reps"
Legislation introduced by Councilmember David Catania
"Pharmaceutical representatives, also called "detailers," make up the largest unregulated segment of the health care industry today. There are currently more than 100,000 detailers in the U.S., equal to one for every nine physicians.
Detailers exert enormous influence over the prescribing decisions of our doctors. And they do so without any real rules or regulations.
The result is a system that promotes the use of the latest, most expensive drugs at the expense of the best, most effective ones. It also encourages false and misleading claims about how well certain medicines perform, what uses they're approved for, and what the true side effects are.
Around the country, governments are waking up to the reality that the current "anything goes" system of pharmaceutical detailing places their citizens at risk.
Catania introduced SafeRx in the District to treat detailers for what they are -- medical professionals who directly affect the health care of our residents.
Like other health professionals in DC, detailers will be required to obtain a license, meet certain educational requirements, and be held to a code of ethical conduct developed by our Board of Pharmacy.
SafeRx represents a common sense way of ensuring that the profits of the pharmaceutical marketers don't come at the expense of our health care or safety."
SafeRx is on the Council's agenda for tomorrow, Dec. 11th.
It's not surprising that a critical "vote no" editorial was published in today's Washington Post (we do have a few pharma lobbyists in these here parts...).
The major takeaway point I got from the op-ed piece was this: we've got bigger things to worry about in DC - why waste our time and money trying to fight Big Pharma on this (since they have even more time and money and really are just trying to save lives with safer meds?)
Here's an interesting editorial on the unmeasured influence drug reps and detailers have on our current medication landscape.
Before you judge my bias, let me relate that I'm quite familiar with the functions (both good and maybe not so good) that drug reps serve.
My sister's father-in-law was a pharma man for years. On my way into meetings as an H/HC consultant, I was often asked if I was a drug rep (guess it was the black suit and heels). In high school, my husband's mom, an LPN in a small PC practice, often brought home leftovers from drug rep lunches. She told me her office learns about most new drugs when the drug reps visit.
Here's some more coverage from FierceHealthcare.
So what do you think? Has your organization banned unscheduled pharma visits? Are the 'gifts' or benefits your office will accept from reps limited to samples?
Final food for thought - we license the people who cut our hair. I'm very interested to see whether or not the DC Council will seriously consider licensing the people who teach some of our doctors about the drugs we take.