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DRUG MARKETING HEARINGS DEFINITELY THIS SUMMER, KENNEDY AIDE SAYS

Executive Summary

Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) will hold a hearing on drug marketing practices before his Senate Labor & Human Resources Committee this summer, committee Health Policy Advisor Stephen Keith, MD, told the National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers June 6-8 mid-year meeting in Washington. "We are planning hearings this summer to focus on promotional activities," Keith declared. "We have not scheduled the hearings, but it will be sometime this summer," he said. Another committee staff member suggested that the hearings could be held in July. The 1980s has brought a return of the kinds of pharmaceutical promotional efforts -- such as industry's lavishing gifts to prescribers and sending them on "boondoggles" -- that were subject of committee hearings in the late 1970s, Keith said. "It looks like a lot of the bad stuff is back." Keith described the industry practices as "unsavory," but the physician seemed equally concerned that prescribers are swayed by the promotional schemes. "Physicians are making therapeutic decisions based on nonscientific or nonclinical data criteria, based on how many lunches the detail guy" provides, he said. "Unfortunately, because of time demands on physicians they are increasingly making therapeutic decisions based only upon the recommendation of drug detailers as opposed to clinical, scientific data."

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