CT Center for Patient Safety NewsletterTaking Action, Making a Difference
|Afater three years of trying to get action on an important initiative, the CT Center for Patient Safety has an important bill before the Public Health Committee. It is bill number 1049. This year we have important allies in our efforts to improve the quality of care and cut costs.
I want to remind you of the problem and request that you contact members of the public health committee today or over the weekend. (see below)
Simply put, the practice of allowing pharmaceutical and device manufacturers (or anyone with a vested interest in the decisions of prescribers) to make gifts or payments of cash or goods creates an unacceptable conflict of interest that drives up costs and threatens the integrity of our health care system. Drug companies spend over $6 billion annually on marketing, and according to the New England Journal of Medicine, 94% of physicians receive some kind of payment or in-kind gratuity from drug manufacturers.
This must be understood against the all-too-familiar backdrop: The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs in public programs continues to be a large part of the budget problem for state policymakers. Similarly, individual families without health coverage often find it an unbearable burden to afford the drugs their doctor tells them they must have.
It is ultimately Medicaid, Medicare, and other public and private health plans that pay for these gifts. Yet it is not only the millions of dollars in needless payments, meals, gratuities, and other economic benefits that trouble me and a large number of policymakers in state and federal government. It is the distorting effect that these gifts have on the relationship of trust and confidence between the patient and his health care provider. No prescriber should be forced to choose, day after day, between her own compensation and her best judgment regarding the most cost effective, medically appropriate care for her patients.
These marketing activities, and their potential to undermine appropriate medical practices, have been well documented in the literature, as well as in recent articles in The New York Times, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), "Health Industry Practices that Create Conflicts of Interest," summarizes the psychology and social science associated with marketing campaigns that include gifts from
pharmaceutical companies. 4 "The current influence of market incentives in the United States is posing extraordinary challenges to the principles of medical professionalism," according to the JAMA article. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) recently reported that many physicians have continued to receive gifts from the industry despite voluntary guidelines discouraging the practice.5
CT by supporting a gift ban can address costs and quality of care.
|Taking action |
Of all the lobbies, pharma ranks way up there. But I continue to believe in the power of our voice.
Contact Members of the Public Health Committee and urge them to support a gift ban. It can be a very simple message and it can either be emailed to the legislator or you can phone his or her office.
- On Monday, March 2 there is a press conference with the Attorney General in Room 1 A of the Legislative Office Building at 10:30. Please join us
If you phone, Democrat - 1 -800-842-1420, a Republican 1-800- 842- 1421 and ask for the Representative or Senator, listed below who sits on the committee. You will not reach the rep but you will either get an aide, or voice mail. Leave your message. It should be short and to the point. Support bill 1049 and ban gifts.
Or email. You can do this by going to the General Assembly web site
http://www.cga.ct.gov/ , go to committees listed across the top, click on Public Health, on the left you will see committee membership and click. Wonderfully, the entire list of public health committee members will appear and you can go to work! Of go to our website www.ctcps.org and click on taking action
Please let me know if you have any questions
Jean 203 247 5757 and thank you
Dist. - Name Position Party
S05 - Harris, Jonathan A. Co-Chair D
038 - Ritter, Elizabeth B. Co-Chair D
S14 - Slossberg, Gayle S. Vice Chair D
104 - Gentile, Linda M Vice Chair D
S21 - Debicella, Dan Ranking Member R
138 - Giegler, Janice R. Ranking Member R
128 - Ayala, Andres Member D
002 - Bartlett, Jason W. Member D
019 - Bye, Beth Member D
108 - Carson, Mary Ann Member R
S02 - Coleman, Eric D. Member D
105 - Conroy, Theresa W. Member D
103 - Esty, Elizabeth Member D
023 - Giuliano, Marilyn Member R
129 - Grogins, Auden Member D
101 - Heinrich, Deborah W. Member D
114 - Klarides, Themis Member R
017 - LeGeyt, Timothy B. Member R
100 - Lesser, Matthew Member D
106 - Lyddy, Christopher Member D
089 - Nardello, Vickie Orsini Member D
S19 - Prague, Edith G. Member D
024 - O'Brien, Tim Member D
046 - Olson, Melissa M. Member D
139 - Ryan, Kevin Member D
107 - Scribner, David A. Member R
S20 - Stillman, Andrea L. Member D
109 - Taborsak, Joseph J Member D
026 - Tercyak, Peter A. Member D
098 - Widlitz, Patricia M. Member D
S08 - Witkos, Kevin D. Member R