Got this email yesterday:
The Senate recently passed legislation prohibiting pharmaceutical and medical device companies from giving gifts to health care providers. This measure is critical for consumers. The industry spends billions of dollars each year on these gifts to increase sales of their products. These costs get passed along to all of us in the amounts we all pay for our medications. Gifts also influence prescribing decisions, increasing prescribing of newer, more expensive drugs without a proven safety and efficacy record.
The pharmaceutical gift ban is now in the House Ways and Means Committee. Please contact your state representative and ask him or her to improve health care access and quality and decrease health care costs by supporting the pharmaceutical gift ban.
Yeah, we've seen some bluster on the part of the pharma companies that they just absolutely have to give doctors tons of awesome swag or the docs will have no idea what they're doing — and the pharma cos will leave town. Uh huh.
Medications are not some tasty treat whose consumption is to be maximized by whatever marketing means; they're medicine. And as such they should be treated differently.
Controlling costs is going to be a process of telling each special interest
steak eater stakeholder, one at a time, that they're going to have to give up a little for the whole system not to come crashing down.
State House is 617-722-2000. If you get a yes or no from your rep, post the response here.
UPDATE: I contacted Carl Sciortino's office (not my rep, but the email was handy). This is from Daniel Glasser, his legislative aide:
For the record, Rep. Sciortino hasn't had a chance to review the amendments the Senate recently passed to the gift ban and can't yet take a firm position. He is supportive of the concept, but he wants to ensure that educational materials and drug samples are not included in the ban, since samples are often given by doctors to patients who can't otherwise afford certain prescriptions. I believe those two exceptions were resolved by the Senate, but again we haven't had an opportunity to look the new language over.
The bill is in House Ways & Means now, so the Rep. will have a chance to familiarize himself with the new text before it comes to the floor of the House for a vote.