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Senate Considers Ban of Pharmacy Record Mining

by Toby Roberts on December 11, 2009

Two Senate Democrats introduced an amendment Thursday that would ban the practice of pharmaceutical data mining. Pharmaceutical companies currently purchase pharmacy sales records from third party companies in order to identify doctors who prescribe their drugs and competitor alternatives.

The amendment to the Senate health care bill would ban the sale of pharmacy records for marketing purposes only. Records used to patient safety would still be made available.

Data mining companies argue that without the records pharmaceutical companies would need to dramatically expand their sales force rather than working on a more focused approach that is made specific by the pharmacy data. Proponents of the amendment believe that the marketing drives up health care costs because of the potential for aggressive, target sales of more expensive medications. The version of the bill already passed by the House of Representatives proposed a study of data mining but no initial limitations.


Importing Drugs Reenters Healthcare Debate

by Toby Roberts on December 4, 2009

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) will bring an amendment to vote this week to allow importing of prescription drugs from Canada to lower the cost of healthcare reform. The amendment would override an agreement between the White House and pharmaceutical companies in which the industry agreed to payback billions of dollars in rebates to the government to help fund the healthcare bill.

Despite the potential to turn large pharmaceutical companies into opponents of reform, Dorgan believes the amendment has a good chance of passing. If he is able to put together bipartisan support and gain at least 60 votes he will be successful in adding the amendment to the reform bill. Dorgan notes that the amendment would keep drug prices low without the necessity of negotiation between the government and big name pharmaceutical companies.


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