Minnesota lawmakers face fight over pharma

Another day, another state seeking control over pharmaceutical sales. Actually, this is Minnesota, where lawmakers have already been pushing for restrictions on pharma's relationships with doctors. Now, a coalition of consumers, labor groups, hospitals and insurers are lobbying the legislature for just such a measure--while doctors and drugmakers are lobbying against.

The fight centers on three bills the Minnesota Legislature may consider. Yesterday, two committees met to debate those three bills. The "for" coalition says the proposals would improve patient care and save money. The "against" crowd says the doctor-drugmaker relationship is misunderstood by the public. "We couldn't practice medicine if it weren't for pharmaceutical companies," Dr. J. Michael Gonzalez-Campoy, former head of the Minnesota Medical Association, tells the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Just what would these bills do? One would require health regulators to develop a drug-education program for doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, which would be designed to provide "evidence-based" recommendations for pharmaceuticals use. Another bill would restrict data-mining, inhibiting drugmakers' ability to get a hold of doctors' prescribing records and use them to tailor marketing messages. The third would expand Minnesota's law banning pharma gifts to doctors to cover device companies as well.

Editors Note: This story was corrected to identify Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy as a former head of the MMA, rather than current chair.

- read the Star-Tribune piece
- see the post at Pharmalot
- get the Minnesota Public Radio coverage