Policy Tip Sheet - Academic Drug Detailing
Academic Drug Detailing
A recent report from the Goldwater Institute highlights an upcoming issue in the pharmaceutical industry known as academic drug detailing.
Through its academic drug detailing policy, the federal government will fund academics to reach out to physicians and specifically encourage them to prescribe generic medications and those of similar low cost. This academic drug detailing differs from typical drug detailing, where representatives from pharmaceutical companies reach out to physicians, marketing different medications.
Pharmaceutical drug detailing is conducted at the expense of pharmaceutical companies, highlights new innovations in drug therapy, and leaves prescribing up to physician expertise.
Academic drug detailers, paid with taxpayer funds, presume to tell physicians which prescribing methods and medications are most "cost-effective," encouraging the use of generic drugs regardless of whether other medications would work better for patients.
Academic drug detailing inserts government into the patient-physician relationship and stifles drug innovation. The federal health law’s comparative effectiveness research mandate threatens the quality of future pharmaceutical innovation as well as general health care.
Fact 1: Physicians already have access to objective drug compendia, like the Physicians' Desk Reference.
Fact 2: According to a 2011 report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, 80 percent of all prescriptions are already written for generics.
Fact 3: The federal government already stifles drug innovation and access. The FDA’s drug approval process takes up to ten years and costs more than $1 billion per drug.
The following is a summary of the Goldwater Institute’s solutions:
- Encourage doctors to report fraudulent claims.
Academic detailers will not be objective in providing information to physicians. They represent the federal government, which has a vested interest in lowering health care costs, regardless of the effect on health outcomes. Instead of academic detailing, doctors should make treatment decisions based upon their expertise and judgement, in collaboration with their patients, and report pharmaceutical representatives who make exaggerated claims about medications.
- Encourage patient interaction with pharmacists.
Scrip forms could be required to include a disclaimer, informing patients they can consult a pharmacist for a suitable drug alternative, approved by the physician. Patients likely will seek less-expensive substitutes and will be better-informed about potential drug interactions.
Point 1. Academic detailing allows the government to influence decisions that should be made between physicians and their patients.
Point 2. Academic detailing prevents patients from receiving the benefits of pharmaceutical innovation.
Point 3. Academic detailing does not ensure objective drug information reaches physicians. Instead, it allows the government to push its own one-size-fits-all position.
Point 4. Physicians can combat overzealous pharmaceutical representatives by reporting fraudulent activity.
Point 5. Prescription costs can be lowered, without government interference, by encouraging patients to discuss alternatives with pharmacists in collaboration with their doctors.
A Pound of Cure: How Academic Detailing Could Limit Access to Pharmaceuticals.
The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2011
Free To Choose Medicine