New Goldwater Institute Analysis Shines Light On “Academic Detailing”
Legitimate but rare abuses in pharmaceutical sales are being held up as evidence for vast new government intrusion and regulation. But a new Goldwater Institute analysis finds that these efforts are likely to negatively affect doctors and patients.
Of particular concern is the policy of spending taxpayer money to send academics to doctors’ offices, encouraging the use of generics and other less expensive medications. The policy, referred to as “academic detailing,” is part of the Obama Administration’s health care law
It’s a policy that, according to Dr. Byron Schlomach, director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute, contradicts the free speech of pharmaceutical representatives, whose speech is already regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
“The policy also has potential to line the pockets of academics with public money, part of which is contributed by pharmaceutical companies,” said Schlomach, author of A Pound of Cure: How Academic Detailing Could Limit Access to Pharmaceuticals. “The practice subjects pharmaceutical companies – already heavily regulated – to what amounts to the funding of competitors’ marketing.”
“Drug detailing” is the term used to describe the practice of pharmaceutical companies sending representatives to doctors’ offices to give doctors information about the company’s latest drugs. It’s an expensive – and some might say aggressive – form of marketing. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), almost 60 percent of the $20.5 billion spent on drug promotion, $12 billion was spent on detailing.
Academic detailing sends academics or others, at taxpayer expense, to physicians’ offices and conferences to present information about drugs. It has now become a major emphasis of the federal government as part of its comparative effectiveness research and treatment emphasis under the new health care law. States such as Maine, Idaho, and Pennsylvania have enacted laws and policies to implement academic detailing at the state level as well. Maine imposes a fee on pharmaceutical companies in order to fund its academic detailing efforts.
Schlomach’s analysis asserts that academic detailing represents an effort to contradict the speech of drug companies, often at the expense of the drug companies themselves. In so doing, it is likely to discourage the development of new drugs and the use of existing drugs for other researched purposes.
“While no one should be prohibited from expressing their opinions to a ready audience, academic detailing should not be publicly funded,” Schlomach added. “In no small part due to free speech issues.”