New Jersey AG wants pharma-marketing crackdown

New Jersey is joining the queue of states mulling a harder line on drug marketing. The state's attorney general is asking state agencies to crack down on pharma gifts and free meals given to doctors. And the AG wants to restrict the sale of prescription data, too. Here are the AG's specific proposals, as reported by the WSJ Health Blog:

  • Bar physicians and their staffers from accepting free food from drugmakers, whether in the office (no more free pizza lunches) at hospitals and other healthcare facilities, or at restaurants (no more educational dinners at fancy eateries, either).
  • Require doctors whose licenses are up for renewal to disclose whether they had accepted more than $200 worth of cash or gifts from industry over the previous two years. Those disclosures would then go into a public database.
  • Restrict the sale of certain scrip data for commercial use. Pharmacies sell data on prescriptions to market research firms that analyze it 100 ways and sell that info to drugmakers. This is how pharma firms figure out which doctors are using which drugs--so they can target physicians using competing drugs for a switch-over, for instance.

None of these ideas is new. Vermont and Massachusetts have restricted gifts and food given to docs, and Vermont and New Hampshire have severely limited the sale of scrip data. Vermont also has a payment-disclosure law in effect. Plus, disclosure has been a huge issue nationally; as Congress has been debating mandated disclosure, several Big Pharmas have pledged to voluntarily post that data on their websites. And some have already begun doing so. But the fact that New Jersey could be getting into the act is significant. It is, after all, Big Pharma HQ central.

- read the Health Blog post