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Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA) are demanding answers from Labor Secretary Elaine Chao on her mysterious proposed rule on risk assessment.  I reported earlier this week that the Secretary’s office sent a proposed rule to OMB on July 7 entitled “Requirements for DOL Agencies’ Assessment of Occupational Health Risks.”  Although this proposal might sound innocuous, past experience at so-called “regulatory reform” of risk assessment tells us to be very wary of plans to “improve” the risk assessment process.  In layman’s terms, it means workers’ health gets screwed. 

Kennedy and Miller’s letter to Secretary Chao asks for a briefing within a week about the proposed regulation, and asks for:

  • a copy of the proposed rule
  • the legal authority under which the Department expects to promulgate this regulation
  • the reason that this proposed rule was not listed in the Department’s Regulatory Agenda (which was published in May 2008 )

A screenshot of OMB’s webpage on which this proposed rule appears is here.

Thanks to the Senator and Congresman for taking their oversight responsibilities seriously.

Pens, pads, and other trinkets bearing prescription-drug logos have come to symbolize the extensive presence of pharmaceutical marketing in healthcare settings, but they may be on their way out. Pharmaceutical-industry trade association The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is announcing a new voluntary code of conduct that bans drug reps from distributing these logoed items to doctors and other healthcare professionals.

The rule’s voluntary nature will limit its effectiveness, and, of course, it only addresses one of the many avenues through which drug companies seek to influence prescribing behavior (Merrill Goozner lists other avenues). In Gardiner Harris’s New York Times article on the PhRMA code, National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices executive director Sharon Treat warns that it’s probably “an attempt to persuade people against doing anything that’s serious.”

One thing we can say for sure about this move, though, is that it demonstrates the strength of the backlash against pharmaceutical marketing. PhRMA wouldn’t have made this move unless it really felt that it had to do something. Alicia Mundy reports in the Wall Street Journal:

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