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Rx Efforts Seek to Reduce Big Pharma’s Influence on Health Care Decisions

While Minnesota has developed a national reputation as a place for quality and cost-effective health care, serious conflicts of interest still exist between pharmaceutical companies and health care providers.  This undue influence too often undermines health care decisions made in our health care system.

That’s why a broad-based group of organizations called the Minnesota Prescription Coalition is working to reform prescription drug practices through three bills proposed at the Minnesota Legislature.  The legislation will promote fair practices by promoting evidence- based prescribing and reducing conflicts of interest issues in medical field.

“The power of Big Phrma too often interferes with the important decisions that should be left only to doctors and patients,” said AARP State Director Michele Kimball.   “AARP is working with this broad based coalition to reduce these conflicts of interest, improve the quality of prescribing in Minnesota, and reduce prescription drug costs for both patients and payers.”

The goal of the Minnesota Prescription Coalition is to ensure that Minnesotans have fair and easy access to the best quality, most appropriate and lowest cost medications available.

The legislation will:

  • Protect the privacy of Minnesota’s patients and doctors by banning “data mining” – or the selling of doctors’ prescribing patterns to pharmaceutical companies.
  • Reduce conflict of interest between doctors and pharmaceutical companies by closing loopholes in Minnesota’s gift ban laws.
  • Provide “academic detailing” so that providers get nonbiased evidence-based research to effectively compare the quality, cost and effectiveness of drugs they prescribed.
  • Increase transparency in pharmaceutical decisions so that Minnesotans know where money and influence exists in the system.


More details of the proposals can be found at the Minnesota Prescription Coalition.

Summaries of the Key Rx Legislation

Independent Prescriber Educational Program-  “Academic Detailing” (S.F. 895 – Senator Kathy Sheran and H.F. 1640 – Rep. Tina Liebling). A new nonbiased academic information detailing system would provide doctors and other prescribers with objective information on prescription drugs, based on the best available evidence-based science.   Currently, pharmaceutical companies play too big a role in “educating” doctors about the drugs they sell.

An Enhanced and Strengthened Pharmaceutical Gift Ban (S.F. 1237 - John Marty and H.R. 1641- Rep. Tina Liebling) builds on and improves Minnesota’s current ban on most pharmaceutical gifting by closing key loopholes.

Pharmaceutical Commercial Data Mining Ban—House (HF 491-Rep Tina Liebling and SF 1044- Senator John Doll) prohibits Pharmaceutical companies from buying doctors’ prescribing records and using the information to target their marketing to individual doctors. Use of prescriber data for marketing often leads to biased and inaccurate information about health risks, and encourages the prescribing of new drugs that might be riskier to patients than already established treatments.

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