Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plan to introduce a bill that would offer physicians an alternative source for the latest information about new drugs, instead of relying on pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The legislation would create a federal academic detailing program, which would produce independent educational materials for doctors on the safety and comparative effectiveness of prescription drugs, including generic and over-the-counter products, based on research at pharmacy and medical schools. Pharmaceutical sales reps often confuse educating with selling, and evidence shows that doctors prescribing patterns can be heavily influenced by the biased information these representatives present, said Kohl, who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Its dangerous to think that drug representatives always provide valuable information to the doctor, said former Eli Lilly & Co. sales representative Shahram Ahari in a hearing before Kohls panel. Drug reps are hired to sell, period, said Ahari, adding that many of these sales representatives arent scientifically trained.
Some academic detailing services have already been implemented at the state level and by integrated health systems such as Kaiser Permanente. Other witnesses testified that these programs have effectively changed prescribing behavior while reducing healthcare costs. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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