Also, Senate targets pharmaceutical data mining.
An amendment to the Senate healthcare bill may prohibit drug companies from mining pharmacy records to track which doctors are prescribing their medications, according to a Dec. 10 Associated Press article. “The amendment to the Senate healthcare bill would effectively ban pharmaceutical data mining, the drug company practice of buying prescription records to target sales pitches to doctors,” writes AP.
On Dec. 7, 2009, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked 33 medical groups for information about the financial backing they get from the pharmaceutical, medical device, and insurance industries, according to a press release on the Senator’s website. "I’m interested in transparency,” Grassley said in the release. “Letting the sun shine in and making information public is basic to building people’s confidence in medical research, education, and the practice of medicine.” The senator’s letters of inquiry were sent to the American Medical Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the American Cancer Society, and 29 others.
Read the text of his letter.
Fraud and abuse in healthcare costs individual governments as much as $23 billion a year, according to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO). In a new fact sheet on its website, WHO explains that corruption occurs throughout all stages of the medicines chain, from research and development to dispensing and promotion, and results in the loss of enormous amounts of public health resources. An estimated 10–25% of public procurement spending, including on pharmaceuticals, is lost to corruption. In developing countries, however, up to 89% leakage of procurement and operational costs has been observed.