Should the feds send out their own pharma reps? Wednesday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will convene to discuss "academic detailing," which is essentially a straight talk express for pharma. Special reps fan out with their own--presumably objective--educational materials to help counteract the naturally biased info each drug company provides on its own products. Some states are doing it with mixed results; some critics say these so-called straight talkers actually are trying to push generics over brand-name meds even when newer meds are better.
Sen. Herb Kohl, who chairs the committee, and Sen. Dick Durbin plan to sponsor a bill this spring that would create a federal corps of academic detailers. "The industry's educational outreach is essentially a marketing program, and evidence shows that doctors' prescribing patterns can be heavily influenced," the committee's statement about the hearing said. An academic detailing program would give docs and other prescribers a source of unbiased info "based on scientific research."
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