Regulatory changes key: Hamburg by ProQuest


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                   As I See It
                   BY TOM SULLIVAN                         Sen. Grassley questions
                   As healthcare reform moves
                                                           advocacy group funding
                   through Congress, power moves           THe RAnKInG member of
from the hands of committee chairmen to the                the Senate Finance Committee,
                                                           Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
speaker and the Senate majority leader, who will           has asked state-level chapters of
decide, with little input, what stays in and out of the    the national Alliance on Men-
final bills. Both bills contain physician payment sun-     tal Illness (nAMI) to account
                                                           for funds given directly to them
shine provisions requiring manufacturers to report         by drug companies or coming
payments of greater than $5-$10 to physicians and          to them through drug company
organizations.                                             funding of the organization.
                                                              An earlier inquiry of the
   The Senate version was worked on by Sens. Herb
                                                           national-level nAMI found that
Kohl and Chuck Grassley for over two years in one          in 2005-2008, drug companies
of the best bipartisan collaborations ever on Capitol      gave a total of $28.6 million to
                                                           the organization, which has often    Grassley: confidence would be
Hill. Both senators’ staffs received input from numer-
                                                           been accused of being too sup-       improved with transparency
ous individuals and organizations to determine the         portive of mental health drugs
most workable version. The goal was to capture the         and the companies that make          dence could be greatly improved
                               most useful information     them. “Public trust and public       if financial relationships were
                                                           dollars are at stake,” Grassley      disclosed. My legislative effort
The goal was to                and, at the same time,      said. “People rely on medical        is a common-sense reform that
capture the most               not disrupt industry and    advice and taxpayers spend bil-      would require the pharmaceuti-
useful information the practice of medicine.               lions of dollars on prescription     cal and device industry to report
                                                           drugs and devices through Medi-      money it gives to doctors.”
and, at the same               Their version was cap-      care and Medicaid. Public confi-               —James G. Dickinson
time, not disrupt              tured in the final Senate
the industry                   Finance version of the
                               healthcare reform bills.    Regulatory changes key: Hamburg
   The House Sunshine provision is the exact oppo-         FDA CoMMISSIoneR Mar-                down the perception of FDA
site. The drafter, Rep. Peter Stark, did not go out        garet Hamburg says it is impor-      as a bureaucratic “black box.”
                                                           tant for the nation to strengthen    She said it also needs to be rec-
and build any type of consensus or solicit input from      its commitment to regulatory         ognized that we live in a world in
others. Instead, he took a report that was developed       science so that it becomes a         which there will always be risks
by the Medicare Payment Advisory Council and               robust and respected discipline      and crises, but there is much
                                                           in the broader scientific enter-     more than can be done to pre-
put it into bill form with a whole lot of additional       prise. Her comments were made        vent such problems. “During a
provisions. So, instead of just capturing physician        during an interview she gave to      crisis we have to not be afraid to
payments, the House bill covers payments to every at the Cleve-           communicate rather than circle
                                                           land Clinic healthcare summit        the wagons, which has happened
single entity that a pharma, device, insurance compa-
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