Beyond the Rx Hype

The pharmaceutical sales force in America totals about 100,000. These drug-company reps, who sold over $250 billion in medicines last year, in many cases are physicians' primary...
by | June 24, 2007

The pharmaceutical sales force in America totals about 100,000. These drug-company reps, who sold over $250 billion in medicines last year, in many cases are physicians' primary source for information on new drugs. To make sure doctors are getting the most objective information about the costs and benefits of all kinds of treatments, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging launched the Independent Drug Information Service last year. The program sends pharmacists, nurses and other health-care professionals, also known as "academic detailers," around to doctors offices to provide the most accurate, up-to-date synthesis of relevant drug information. A team of physicians and drug researchers at Harvard Medical School accumulates the relevant information for the state, evaluating medical journals and other data sources. The program, which is receiving $3 million over three years from the state, serves the state's Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly, and is being expanded to include the state retiree-benefit program. Australia and Canada already run similar programs, but Pennsylvania's program is believed to be the first in the United States. Early studies, involving painkillers and acid-reflux drugs, have shown immediate savings in drug expenditures after a detailer's visit. To learn more, visit www.rxfacts.org.