A ban on data mining of prescriptions and tightened rules banning gifts to medical practitioners were among several reform proposals floated at a joint House and Senate hearing.
A trio of bills sponsored by Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester) was discussed at a joint hearing of the House Commerce and Labor Committee and the Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee. No action was taken.
HF491, which has no Senate companion, would ban the practice of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers data-mining information on prescriptions for marketing purposes. It awaits action by the House committee.
Dr. Chris McCoy, policy committee chair for the National Physicians Alliance, called it “offensive” that doctors’ prescribing habits are being tracked behind their backs by companies to help market new products. Robert Hunkler, director of professional relations for IMS Health Inc., defended the practice, arguing that data mining prescription information benefits not only drug companies but also researchers, state agencies and others.
Meanwhile, HF1641 would expand the ban on gifts from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers to physicians, and also add a number of disclosure requirements. It awaits action by the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee.
Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Prescription Project, said even small gifts can influence physicians on which drugs they prescribe or which treatments they use; however, Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the legislation would harm manufacturers’ ability to compensate doctors for assisting in research.
A third bill, HF1640, which would create an academic prescription drug education program for doctors and pharmacists, was discussed only briefly. It, too, awaits action by the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee. Sen. Kathy Sheran (DFL-Mankato) sponsors the companion, SF895, which awaits action by the Senate State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.