FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin


May 9, 2006

New Hampshire is one step closer to being the first state to ban pharmaceutical companies from obtaining doctors' prescription information for the purpose of boosting sales after a recent vote in the state Senate.

Currently, drugmakers can buy information about what drugs doctors prescribe. But some lawmakers are concerned drug sales representatives sometimes use the information to try and change a doctor's prescribing habits, such as pressuring them to write more prescriptions for a drug or fewer prescriptions for a competing drug.

If it becomes law, the New Hampshire legislation would prevent pharmaceutical benefits managers, insurance companies, data-mining companies and all types of pharmacies from selling, transferring, using or licensing prescription information for any commercial purpose. This includes any purpose that "could be used to influence sales or market share of a pharmaceutical product [or] influence or evaluate the prescribing behavior of an individual health care professional."

The state House of Representative has already passed the bill. Since the Senate passed a different version of the bill, there will be a "vote of concurrence" in the House as soon as May 11 to give final passage, according to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Cindy Rosenwald.

The American Medical Association already plans to launch a program July 1 that would allow doctors to opt their prescribing information out of such lists, but state bills like New Hampshire's would restrict or prevent companies from distributing this information from any doctor.

Rising health care costs are a major incentive for states to craft such bills, especially in light of how successful sales representatives have been at convincing doctors to prescribe newer, more expensive drugs. From 1997-2002, Medicaid spending more than doubled while the use of generic drugs for conditions that cost Medicaid the most fell sharply, according to a report by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This resulted at least partly from the increased introduction of new brand drugs, AHRQ said. (http://www.fdanews.com/did/5_90/)