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Posts published in “Day: June 26, 2009”

Recording who gets what

Not all the decisions in the effort to do something useful about health care are necessarily easy. But some of them - a considerable number - simply seem to be no-brainers, proposals whose downside is awfully hard to find.

Consider Oregon House Bill 2376, passed today by the House, which "requires manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and other medical products to report to the Department of Justice gifts, fees, payments subsidies or other economic benefits the manufacturer provides to purchasers, providers or dispensers of the manufacturer’s drugs in the state. The bill also requires the Department of Justice to establish a readily searchable database and website for the public to search the database."

In other words, it says that if your hospital or physician is being given drug samples or other goodies by pharmaceutical companies, you should be able to know that . . . so you can determine if, for example, there's some relationship between a company's sales efforts and the drugs you're prescribed.

The House Democrats said in a release that "citizens today are acutely aware of the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to market prescription drugs directly to the consumer. However, most people are not aware that pharmaceutical companies spend billions more dollars contracting with, and marketing to, doctors who, in addition to prescribing drugs, also advocate for their use at medical conferences and in medical journals."

There are some legitimate questions of details (at what monetary amount do you have to report?) but the point seems painfully obvious.

There was House floor debate against. (It passed 34-25, not a huge margin.) As the Oregonian reported:

"We're going to drive jobs out of the state of Oregon," said Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass.

Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, said the bill would have a "chilling effect on our ability to attract research dollars to Oregon."

The bill, of course, has nothing to do with research. And jobs lost are those of drug pushers who are making ever more expensive and distorted our health care, then the problem doesn't seem significant.