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Senator Sponsors Legislation to Spur Reforms in Drug Industry Lobbying

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the U.S. Special Committee on Aging, reacted to the release of a new voluntary code of conduct by the Pharmaceuticals Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the drug industry'sforemost trade association.  Kohl is behind several initiatives to force greater transparency in the way drug companies interact with doctors, in an effort to curb spiraling prescription drug costs.
"I'm encouraged by the industry's attempt to clean up its act. We're hopeful that consumers will benefit from the $19 billion drug companies could save every year as a result of this move. After all, our ultimate goal is to lower the cost of drugs," said Kohl.
The following are highlights of Senator Kohl's involvement with the issue of drug and medical device marketing. Many of these aspects are addressed in PhRMA's new code of conduct:
  • In June 2007, the Special Committee on Aging held a hearing examining the relationships between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. Following the hearing, Senator Kohl joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in introducing the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (S.2029) to require manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and biologics to disclose the amount of money they give to doctors through payments, gifts, honoraria, travel and other means.
  • In February 2008, the Aging Committee held a second hearing to specifically examine the financial interactions between medical device companies and surgeons. Both PhRMA and the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the medical device industry'strade associations, announced their support for S. 2029 last May.
  • In March 2008, Chairman Kohl held a third hearing on a practice known as academic detailing , an alternative to the prevailing practice of doctors receiving the latest information on new drugs from the drug manufacturers themselves. At the hearing, Kohl announced his plan to introduce a bill with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to create a federal academic detailing program. It is expected that Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will introduce a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • In April 2008, Kohl and Durbin sent a letter to the American Medical Association (AMA) asking for detailed information about how the Prescribing Data Restriction Program (PDRP) blocks the drug industry from accessing physicians' prescribing data. The letter addressed concerns that pharmaceutical companies develop profiles of individual physicians' prescribing information as part of their marketing efforts. Drug companies and others purchase physician information from the AMA that enables them to match prescribing data to specific physicians. 
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