Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

We better water down this new law so we can get criminals on board with it

Pharmaceutical companies are eager to tell the public how much money they spend defending against "frivolous" lawsuits.  But they're not so eager to tell the public how much money they spend bribing doctors into prescribing name brand instead of generic.  A new Senate bill will force drug companies to disclose how much money they're spending in every state to woo physicians.  There's a problem, though: A few states already have stricter laws in place that will be preempted by this bill:

The revised version of a US Senate bill that requires drugmakers to report gifts and donations to the medical field would undermine a stronger Vermont law if passed, according to state officials and advocacy groups, The Rutland Herald reports.

The Physicians Payments Sunshine Act would require drugmakers to disclose gifts, payments, travel expenses and other financial donations to docs. But the reporting threshold under the proposed federal law is $500 - much higher than the $25 threshold found in a similar Vermont law passed five years ago. If passed, the federal bill would preempt the state law.

“Vermont was the first state to enact a law requiring that these payments be made public,” Assistant Attorney General Julie Brille tells the paper. “We’ve been doing this for four years now and we are very concerned with how this new Senate bill would affect that.”

After the Senate bill was watered down - fines were also reduced to between $1,000 and $50,000 for each violation, down from an earlier proposal of $10,000 to $100,000 - Lilly, AstraZeneca and Merck, and the PhRMA trade group, offered their support.

A spokesman for Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator from Vermont, tells the Herald that “there is a concern that the sponsors are tempted to sell out states like Vermont with stronger laws, in order to get Eli Lilly on board.”

Pharmalot » Vermont Irked By Revised Senate Disclosure Bill

Isn't it absolutely lovely that pharmaceuticals have such sway over the legislature that we have to make sure they're OK with new regulations designed to protect consumers?  Who gives a damn if Eli Lilly is "on board" with this requirement?  The question should be whether the law is good for consumers, not whether big pharma likes it.  But until we citizens are prepared to start funding our own lobbyists, our best interests will always take a back seat to corporate interests.