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May 27, 2005

Council urges lawmakers to reject 'restrictive, needless' regulations on prescription-drug marketing

A bill that would impose strict new regulations on how one industrial sector in New York tells customers about products “represents government regulatory overkill of the highest order,” The Business Council has told legislators.

The Business Council is opposing the bill (A.5574/S696A), which would require the state Health Department to develop a new “consumer guide” with information on how New York’s pharmaceutical companies advertise and promote prescription drugs within the state.

“It is unfathomable, given the innumerable ills with New York state’s health care system, that this bill is currently receiving serious legislative attention,” The Business Council’s memo opposing the bill says.

“Businesses are free in the marketplace to make financial judgements about how to inform potential customers about the uses and values of their products. It is one of the hallmarks of the market. Where a business makes fraudulent claims, New York State law provides for enforcement and penalties.

The memo noted that consumers cannot buy a prescription drug without a prescription, regardless of how drugs may be marketed.

“The consumer cannot act upon an impulse or a well-educated analysis of their prescription drug needs or desires,” the memo concluded. “The bill is not necessary.”

The memo also said the state Health Department should focus its energy instead on fulfilling “the twice-enacted mandate to provide consumers with hospital report cards. We have heard more clamoring from consumers about that mandate than the one that this bill seeks to remedy.”