Legislative Memo



S.696-D / A.5574-D



Disclosure of gifts by drug manufacturers



June 13, 2006


This bill would amend the public health law in relation to disclosure of gifts provided by drug manufacturers or wholesalers to healthcare providers.

S.696-D runs counter to sound free market principles and only adds to the reality that New York State has an intrusive and oppressive government that is anxious to regulate every aspect of health care — except in those instances where powerful hospital and health-care union interests say otherwise.

This bill segregates one sector of the business community and subjects them to a litany of rules, reports and penalties for practices common across all sectors of society — the legitimate marketing of goods and services. As regulatory initiatives go, this one is over the top and should be rejected.

As we have stated repeatedly, a patient can not receive prescription medication without the physician writing the script. The pharmaceutical industry has developed a set of voluntary guidelines to ensure that exchanges of information with providers are for educational purposes and not for the personal benefit of a physician. Likewise, the HHS Office of Inspector General has issued marketing guidelines to ensure that reciprocal arrangements are prohibited between manufacturers and health professionals.

There is no data we have seen to support the proponent's assertion that doctor prescribing patterns are altered from lower-cost drug options and generics. In New York State, generic drugs are widely used and virtually every Medicaid patient receives generic drugs when available. Nationally, over half of all prescriptions are generic medicines. This would seem to contradict the “undue influence” charge leveled at the industry.

Pharmaceutical products and technological innovation play important roles in the advancement of medicine in the United States, leading to improvements in public health and extended lives for our citizens. The pharmaceutical industry has a critical role in educating providers about the benefits — and dangers — of utilizing the countless medical advancements taking place in society. It is a collaboration that brings enormous positive results to patients, whether they suffer a sudden onset of illness or a chronic or debilitating condition.

S.696-D goes too far and we oppose its passage by the Senate.