States fight drug reps with reps

It's the case of the hair of the dog that bit you. Or perhaps a fight-fire-with-fire tactic. Either way, some states are employing their own pharma reps to combat Big Pharma's marketing machine. Take Pennsylvania, for instance, which spends $1 million a year on an "unsales" force to try to lower healthcare costs by pushing treatment alternatives such as generic and over-the-counter meds.

Industry lobbyists decry the effort, saying that less expensive remedies may end up costing more in the long term if they're not the best therapy for a patient. But Pennsylvania officials said generics aren't recommended "unless the generic is the better choice," saying that in some cases brand-name drugs are deemed most effective by their program.

But it's not criticism from the industry that could doom the states' efforts. It's the fact that, in contrast to that $1 million spent in Pennsylvania's case, pharma shells out more than $7 billion on direct marketing to docs.

- here's the Washington Post report