Senate, House Introduce Academic Detailing Bill to Provide Unbiased Drug Information to Doctors

Contact: Kip Patrick, 202.552.2135, Kathy Melley, 617.275.2861


Boston, MA - 07/31/2008 - The Prescription Project and the National Coalition for Appropriate Prescribing urge Congress to pass a bill, introduced today, that will counter pharmaceutical industry marketing by providing doctors with independent, unbiased information about drugs. The Independent Drug Education and Outreach Act of 2008 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA). Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the House companion bill.

The IDEA Outreach Act will generate healthcare savings while ensuring that Americans get the best, most effective care. It establishes programs through which medical schools and other non-profit organizations can send a trained staff of pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals into doctors’ offices with independent data about the relative risks, benefits and costs of prescription drugs – an approach sometimes called “academic detailing.”

“We need a program like this to counter the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing free-for-all,” said Robert Restuccia, executive director of the Prescription Project. “Academic detailing programs already exist in other countries and in several states, and they’ve been shown to improve care and generate savings.”

In contrast with programs that provide unbiased information, visits by industry sales representatives have been repeatedly shown to alter doctors’ prescribing patterns toward the use of newer, high-cost therapies. Often, these drugs are no better than older, less expensive drugs, while newer medications come with unknown risks.

The Prescription Project has supported the creation of similar state-based programs, and testified before the Senate in March on the cost-effectiveness of such programs, including those in Australia, Canada and the Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Program (PACE).  A landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that for every dollar spent on academic detailing, two dollars can be saved in drug costs.

About The Prescription Project 
The Prescription Project is led by Community Catalyst in partnership with the Institute on Medicine as a Profession. Created with The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Project promotes evidence-based prescribing and works to eliminate conflicts of interest in medicine caused by pharmaceutical marketing to physicians by working with academic medical centers, professional medical societies, public and private payers, and state and federal policymakers. The Prescription Project also leads the National Coalition for Appropriate Prescribing. For more information, please visit www.prescriptionproject.org.

About the National Coalition for Appropriate Prescribing
The National Coalition for Appropriate Prescribing (NCAP) comprises 26 national and state-based groups and includes professional organizations, academic centers, consumer organizations, and health plans. Organizations supporting the IDEA Outreach Act of 2008 include:

  • The Prescription Project / Community Catalyst
  • American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • Consumers Union
  • Gray Panthers
  • Health Care for All (Massachusetts)
  • HealthPartners Health Plan, MN
  • HealthPartners Medical Group, MN
  • Medicare Rights Center
  • Minnesota Senior Federation
  • Mississippi Human Services Coalition
  • National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices (NLARX)
  • National Physicians Alliance
  • No Free Lunch
  • Tennessee Health Care Campaign
  • UMass Memorial Medical Center
  • US PIRG
  • Prescription Policy Choices

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