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At a State House news conference, MASSPIRG joined The Massachusetts Prescription Reform Coalition in launching an effort to lower health care costs through reforming the prescription drug industry.
The Massachusetts Reform Coalition is a diverse group of local and national non-profit organizations, community organizations, healthcare and consumer advocates, private insurers, and healthcare providers. Members include:
- AARP Massachusetts
- American Heart/ American Stroke Association
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
- Commonwealth Care Alliance
- Health Care For All
- Massachusetts Senior Action Council
- National Physicians Alliance
- Neighborhood Health Plan
- The Prescription Project
“The cost of prescription drugs is among the fastest growing segments of health care spending. Between 2000 and 2007 the price many of the most commonly prescribed brand name drugs rose by nearly 50%, far exceeding inflation. These rising costs result in higher health care premiums, threaten the stability of health care reform, and threaten people’s ability to access the medications that they need to maintain their health, said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director with MASSPIRG.
The Coalition called on the Commonwealth to take action against industry marketing practices that inflate the cost of prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies spend more than $7 billion annually on marketing to physicians alone. These costs get passed along to consumers and the state through the high price of medications. The Coalition’s top priorities are:
- Restricting Industry Gifts to Prescribers: Studies show that gifts from pharmaceutical companies to prescribers inherently impact prescribing decisions.
- Restricting Data-Mining: Pharmaceutical companies purchase data from prescriptions we fill to target their marketing efforts, magnifying their influence.
- Promoting Evidence-Based Outreach: An evidence-based physician education program (often referred to as “academic detailing”) would ensure that prescribers do not have to rely on biased information from the pharmaceutical industry when they make prescribing decisions. In other states, such programs have been shown to more than pay for themselves with savings to public programs.
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