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McCaskill Proposes Reform for Doctors and Drug Reps

By Frank Morris


Kansas City, MO – Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars a year to market their wares to medical doctors. Senator Claire McCaskill says those efforts should be disclosed to the public. KCUR's Frank Morris reports. Senator McCaskill says drug companies spend some 19 billion dollars a year, marketing their products to medical doctors. She wants to force companies to disclose those gifts.

Drug companies give doctors lots of things, drug samples mainly, but also pens, meals, drinks and sometimes lavish trips and big speaking fees. Senator McCaskill says it amounts to thousands of dollars worth of stuff a year and can lead to doctors prescribing meds they've been sold on, rather than the best, cheapest alternative for their patients.

MCCASKILL: The doctor wants to make sure that the patient gets well as quickly and effectively as possible, at the least cost. The drug rep just wants to make more money by making sure that the doctor prescribes more of their drug.

McCaskill, along with Senator Herb Kohl from Wisconsin will propose legislation forcing drug companies to list gifts to physicians on the internet. This would allow patients the ability to see that if what they're taking might have something to do with what their doctor is getting.

Pharmaceutical companies say those gifts help keep physicians up to speed with new medicines coming onto the market. Some doctors resent the suggestion that treatment decisions are influenced by what they get from drug companies.

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