Around noon Friday the Senate approved their budget on a 36-0 vote.
The Senate bill contains no language to weaken or repeal the pharmaceutical and medical device gift ban law. Senator Petruccelli’s so-called “restaurant rejuvenation” amendment did not come up for a vote. For this victory we thank Senate President Murray and Senator Montigny for their leadership and support.
(side note: the latest DOR Blue Book (pdf) shows that restaurant sales went up another 11% from 2011 to 2012, despite the restrictions on drug companies paying for doctors’ meals; and the humongous BIO International Conference, that supposedly would never come back to Boston due to our gift ban law, is happening here in 3 weeks.)
In other good news, the final budget contains $500,000 in funding for academic detailing. This allows unbiased educators to bring doctors up to date with the latest prescription drug information, without the conflict of interest inherent in “education sessions” paid for by the pharma industry.
The Senate additionally agreed to allow prescription drug marketing coupons, but with substantial restrictions. The coupons must be available for as long as the patient needs the drug, which will prevent the bait and switch tactics that are part of drug marketing to consumers. Also, no coupons will be allowed for brand name drugs when there is a generic equivalent.
With these votes, the Senate continues to be a voice for prescription drug policies that put consumers and affordability ahead of industry marketing demands. We thank the Senate for their ongoing support.