D.C. Council Grants Initial Approval to Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Licensing Bill

The Washington, D.C., Council on Tuesday voted 7-6 to grant initial approval for legislation that would require pharmaceutical sales representatives to be licensed, the Washington Post reports.

Under the legislation, representatives would be required to have a college degree, sign a code of ethics and be subject to regulation by a pharmacy board. Representatives also would be prohibited from using titles that falsely imply they are licensed to practice pharmacy, medicine or nursing.

The bill also includes a ban on a practice known as data mining, where drug makers use doctors' prescribing data without their knowledge to develop marketing strategies. Industry lobbyists urged the council to reject the bill, saying that federal laws and American Medical Association policies provide adequate oversight of drug representatives. However, council Health Committee Chair David Catania said those laws and policies do not stop representatives from misinforming physicians.

If approved, the district would be the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to license pharmaceutical sales representatives, the Post reports. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Senior Vice President Ken Johnson in a statement on Tuesday said, "The bill passed by the council puts the city into a regulatory arena that has been effectively addressed by federal laws and federal government agencies for years."

Johnson added that the legislation "creates unnecessary financial burdens for the District of Columbia at a time when the money would be better spent addressing a wide array of health care challenges confronting the city." The council will vote on final approval of the bill on Jan. 8, 2008 (Stewart, Washington Post, 12/12).

Source : http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=49401

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