‘Academic Detailing’ Bill Would Circumvent Drugmakers’ Salespeople
Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would fund nonprofit and government programs to develop educational materials about the safety, effectiveness and cost of prescription and nonprescription drugs and to train and deploy educators to provide the unbiased research to prescribers.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, is sponsoring the bill, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is introducing it in the House of Representatives.
The proposed legislation would provide grants to produce educational materials for physicians on the safety, efficacy and cost of prescription drugs, including generic and OTC drugs. A second set of up to 10 grants would help send such healthcare professionals as pharmacists and nurses into physicians’ offices to distribute and discuss the information. To ensure their neutrality, grant recipients would be barred from receiving financial support from drug manufacturers whose products they review.
In a written statement announcing his bill, Kohl cited an April editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association that highlighted improper drugmaker influence on physicians. The April issue contained two articles that concluded Merck withheld mortality data on its painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib) before its approval and that company employees guest-authored and ghostwrote medical literature for the drug.
“This bill will provide an important alternative to the way doctors currently get their information about drugs — from the drug companies themselves. This practice seems to be fraught with conflicts of interest,” Kohl says in a statement.
“Many doctors learn about new drugs from drug company salespersons who may not be objective,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, says in the statement. “Studies confirm that when unbiased health professionals armed with educational materials provide guidance to doctors, they are more likely to purchase the best drug for the patient instead of the best deal for the pharmaceutical company.”