Drug detail deductions done for?
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 15, 2004
A bill that would eliminate drug company tax deductions for marketing expenses to physicians has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D, Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.
Stark, who represents California's "East Bay" region between Oakland and San Jose, links marketing expenses to the rising cost of prescription drugs.
"It is wrong that taxpayers are footing the bill for drug companies to lavish doctors with these perks," Stark said in a press release. "Instead of fancy dinners and weekend trips, this legislation would encourage drug companies to dedicate funds to actually improving the health of Americans through pharmaceutical research and manufacturing cheaper drugs."
Jeff Trewhitt, spokesman for the 80 drug and biotechnology companies represented by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, noted that the PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals went into effect in July 2002 forbidding the excesses that Stark talks about.
Trewhitt also said many pharmaceutical sales representatives have nursing or pharmacy backgrounds and are trained to answer a doctor's technical questions regarding medication characteristics and side effects.
"When a sales rep meets with a doctor, it's a form of marketing, but it's also a form of education," Trewhitt said, adding that drug companies spent $31 billion on research and development in 2002, compared with $5.3 billion spent on marketing to doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/03/15/prbf0315.htm.