CALPIRG Health Care Advocate Mike Russo (also a Health Access California board member) makes the case for AB2821 (Feuer) in the California Progress Report, and will later today as well at the Assembly Health Committee.
The bill would place a hard cap of $250 of “gifts” to doctors from drug companies, and require better public disclosure of the pharmaceutical companies’ marketing practices. These are real cost drivers in our health care system–not only the cost of marketing, but the encouragement to move patients to the most profitable and most expensive drugs, even when more tried-and-true remedies are as effective, if not more so. For everyone who raises the issue of cost containment, this is a simple but important step.
This is part of an ongoing effort by many groups, an “OuRx Coalition,” to get a handle on prescription drug costs–such as getting California to use its purchasing power to bargain down the costs of medicines for the uninsured and underinsured, with AB2911(Nunez/Perata) a couple of years ago.
Another consumer-backed bill of a few years ago, SB1765(Sher), had the drug companies create and publish their own guidelines for their marketing practices. A new CALPIRG analysis, “Playing By Their Own Rules,” suggests that:
* Drug companies fail to count some meals and other payments as “gifts,” and therefore not subject to the limit;
* Some companies reserve the right to exceed their limits if they so choose;
* Others assert that they are following a limit, but do not disclose what that limit actually is, while a few fail even to post their policies at all.
Clearly, there’s a prescription for some stronger oversight.