When it comes to New Hampshire, “Live free or die” is a great state motto — but it’s terrible health care policy.
Latest case-in-point, HB 1346, a bill just passed by the New Hampshire legislature, that would make it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to have any access at all to physician prescribing data. This is a simplistic solution to a complex problem.
While I agree that physician-prescribing data shouldn’t be available for marketing purposes minus individual physician consent, there are important public health reasons why this data must continue to be shared with pharmaceutical companies.
When FDA-directed safety warnings are issued, they’re communicated via “Dear Doctor” letters to physicians who have prescribed the drug. This is accomplished quickly and precisely because industry has access to physician-specific prescribing data. And when safety issues arise, that same data helps define the scope of the problem (i.e., how many patients are taking the drug and for how long). Also, FDA-mandated risk management plans, developed for physicians who prescribe higher-risk therapies are targeted through the use of this same prescribing data. It’s also an important tool in clinical trial recruitment, allowing focused efforts towards doctors treating targeted patient populations.
According to a spokeswoman, Governor Lynch will be looking at HB 1346’s “impact on health care costs and personal privacy.” That’s fine. But the Governor should also consider its implications on public safety.